Video Games

Coolidge Pokémon Champ Zack Thornberg on How Battling Is Like Chess

Most kids wish they had parents as cool as Zack Thornberg's mom and dad. Like most kids his age, the 14-year-old Coolidge resident has a serious video gaming habit, playing upwards of seven hours per week on his Nintendo DS and other systems. And his parents are nothing but supportive, probably because of his success as a competitive gamer.

He's a longtime player of video games from Nintendo's blockbuster and long-running Pokémon franchise, which -- for anyone who's lived in a cave for the past 15 years -- involves capturing and training freakish creatures for use in battling other players. And Thornberg is aces at doing all those things, especially on the latest game in the series, Pokémon White and Black 2, for the Nintendo DS. And a couple of weeks from now, the teenager will get a chance to become a national champion and earn himself gaming glory.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.