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The Pokemon TCG Community Is Getting Creeped Out By Suggestive VSTAR Markers

The Pokémon TCG community prides itself on being less toxic and more family-friendly than other competitive communities but the recent Charlotte regional left a bad taste in some players’ mouths due to an increase in suggestive VSTAR markers.

When you compete against an opponent in the TCG, you can proudly express yourself with playmats, sleeves, stuffed animals, VSTAR markers, dice, and anything else you can fit onto the table. While this can sometimes be classics like your favorite Pokémon, a lot of players also bring their own custom playmats and pieces. Unfortunately, some players have taken this to an extreme that others are not comfortable with.

Said a long-time TCG player on X: “I’ve noticed an uptick in players using hypersexualized images of women as VSTAR markers. This is very unfortunate and not fit for our game. And we wonder why a lot of women are uncomfortable at events.”

A VSTAR marker is what players use to indicate if they have or haven’t used their VSTAR ability yet, since you can only use it once per game. Free ones are given out that simply say VSTAR but some people prefer to bring coins, cards, and other unique and customized options. But at Charlotte, gamers noticed a lot of hypersexualized anime girls as well as images of real women that they felt were not appropriate for younger players.

“It's just so weird. There are children that are in the Masters division. Leave the sexualized anime characters at home,” a concerned trainer responded.

The OP noted that it’s also “actual women” being used. This is relatively new in the TCG scene and is likely due to some popular content creators doing this on their channels.

What Are the Rules Regarding Lewd Content at Pokemon TCG Events?

In response to the concern, one trainer asked why they couldn’t call over a judge to make a ruling about the use of inappropriate playmats, sleeves, and markers. The OP responded that the rulebook has specified the need for appropriate playmats and sleeves but “markers have gotten a pass,” possibly due to them being newly implemented with VSTAR cards.

ESI reached out to a Head Judge about the policies regarding “suggestive images” on playmats and markers and was sent this tweet below. Essentially, disciplinary action can be taken if something a participant does “poses a threat to Play! Pokémon’s values” or if it “impairs” another individual from being able to fully enjoy the event.

This includes the “distribution of obscene, pornographic, sexually explicit” content. This didn’t seem super specific to me, however, so I asked if this meant those playmats or markers could be confiscated or banned.

The Head Judge stated that there is no hard and fast rule but that the language is enough to allow them to take action if needed. He explained: “I'd say it gives us enough language to point to if someone decides something is too much to be at a Pokémon tournament.”

So if you do feel uncomfortable about someone using a suggestive photo of a woman as their VSTAR marker, you can call over a judge and say it’s making you uncomfortable. They will be issued a new marker and you’ll get a time extension for that round.