Back when I chained my first shiny in Pearl with the pokéradar (Shellos, West Sea), I loved the process so much that I set a ridiculously long-term goal for myself: to chain at least one shiny in each chainable evolutionary family in the Gen IV games. I made that goal in March of 2010, and just last month, I finally did it. Eight whole years! Egad.
The night before I made my last catch (Ekans, if anyone's curious) I scrolled through the shiny dex I've been keeping in HeartGold and had a sentimental time remembering where I was living and what was going on in my life during many of my catches. It was like going through a photo album in its own way. Almost a full decade of changes to reflect upon through the lens of pokémon.
Back when I started doing this, I remember feeling odd about being one of the oldest shiny hunters I knew. Most folks involved in the hobby back then seemed to be in high school or college, and at 24 years of age I was in a completely different stage of life. I think it's funny to reflect on this now that I'm 32 and shiny hunting is incredibly mainstream among all sorts of demographics in the present day. My small insecurities about being a weirdo seem so quaint in hindsight.
It's interesting too to think back on those early days in general, when information on shiny chaining was relatively scarce and folks were still in the process of confirming the basics. I can remember reading online guides that weren't yet sure if shiny odds capped at chain 40 -- and without good quality screenshots, who can forget the anxiety of wondering whether or not we'd be able to recognize a shiny patch if one actually appeared?
And even beyond the comparatively niche circles of pokéradar devotees, when I originally found this community, hubs that brought enthusiasts together to discuss and share pictures of their shinies of any stripe were rare (or at the very least, not easy to find). Nowadays if you want some quick hits of shiny enthusiasm you can just search #shinypokemon on Twitter and get hundreds of results. It's especially significant to note that not only do more hubs for sharing exist, but more people exist who have shinies to share. It's really a trip to realize that the player who has not encountered a shiny outside of the Lake of Rage event is no longer the norm.
I wish I could talk to the handful of people responsible for the concept and design of shinies and shiny chaining. Did they have any idea how big a passion this would become among players? Are they surprised the hobby ballooned the way it did, to the extent that we now have shiny hunting livestreams and websites like shinydex.com? How long did it take to design the shiny patch animation? Did the team have to prove their case to get this seemingly random minigame implemented in Diamond and Pearl, or was it embraced from the start? Did they ever imagine it would be implemented in later games in the series?
Such have been my rambling thoughts about a bizarre sidehobby that caught fire as posted on a journaling platform that continues to fade. After eight years, how the landscape has changed!
Also, please, if anyone still checks back on this community and has their own reflections to share, I'd love to read them. Comment with abandon.