I opened PokeBeach to the public 20 years ago today — on July 15th, 2003!
I was 14 and about to enter high school with my new dial-up laptop. MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, and smartphones didn’t exist yet.
Pokemon was dead in the U.S., forcing Nintendo to take back the TCG license from Wizards of the Coast. The Pokemon websites I worked at since the Red & Blue days had shut down due to inactivity. Pokemon Leagues in California were extinct. Pokemon merchandise was no longer in stores. Kids in school didn’t care about Pokemon anymore. If you openly liked Pokemon, your peers made fun of you.
Being a shy (and closeted) kid, it was hard for me to relate to other people. It was through Pokemon I bonded with my peers. Without it, I felt like I lost part of my voice.
Against that backdrop, I started PokeBeach because I wanted to help bring the community back together. I wanted to enjoy this franchise with other fans who understood its imaginative and social power — and I wanted others to join in!
And boy let me tell you, it became a LIFESTYLE to run a website like this! Trying to juggle an education while sneaking out of class to post news stories, countless late nights covering Japanese reveals on top of finals and essays, staying glued to my laptop wherever I went… eye yi yi!
The online landscape was completely different back then; we were living in the Wild Wild West! We didn’t have social media, instant notifications, or WordPress websites. Official news was rarely fed to us. Pokemon USA didn’t promote news or resources like they do today; they relied on fansites to get the word out to the community. It was SO much harder to do everything! As such, my life became centered around PokeBeach. But it was worth it, because every day I could come home and bond with my extended family over Pokemon.
Today I’m 34. I’ve now been running PokeBeach for 60% of my life — through my years in high school, at UC Irvine as an undergrad, at USC in grad school, and now while pursuing my film career. Running PokeBeach has proven to me that following your passions and staying persistent pays off. Working on this website has given me countless creative and technical skills that will benefit me for the rest of my life. Not to mention all the lifelong friends I’ve made along the way!
I can never let go of PokeBeach. Mainly because I don’t think it’s ever reached its full potential. Over the next year I hope to make vast improvements that will make the site even more useful to Pokemon TCG fans. But for now, I’m just gonna eat some cake and celebrate my child’s 20th birthday!
I also want to thank my staff who have helped make the website what it is, many of whom have been here since the site’s early days! Bangiras, Shakespeare, PMJ, JustInBasil, Shining Raikou… the list is much longer than that! And to my family, who always supported me — even when they didn’t really understand what I was doing!
Thank you to everyone for all your love and support over these 20 years! ❤