Girl, 13, takes on Pokémon pros this weekend

She's a 13-year-old girl. She likes to play soccer and read. And she's one of the best Pokémon video game players in the country.

On Saturday, Malison Young of Lawrenceville will try to again advance to the national tournament for the video game she says she's been playing since first grade. Last year, she made it the world finals in her first year of competition.

"I get bored easy, so video games are always a new challenge for me," Malison, who plays Pokémon on a portable Nintendo, told the AJC.

An entire day of gaming is planned Saturday at the Gwinnett Center, where the top 16 players in two age groups at the regional event will advance to the national championship in Indianapolis. There, they'll vie for a chance to make it to the world championship, set for Hawaii in August.

Malison didn't place at the world competition last year. But now, she says she knows what she's up against.

"I get nervous, but I try to get over it," says Malison, who also plays bass in her school's orchestra.

As one of the youngest players in the 12-and-up division, last year one of her opponents was a 47-year-old man.

Malison says there aren't many girls that love the game the way she does.

"It's a bunch of different types of people," Malison said.

Malison says a few other classmates at Crews Middle School in Gwinnett play the game, but others have moved on to more mature, and violent, games.

"I have some friends that really don't get it," she said.

Anyone is welcome to participate the event, which kicks off with registration at 8 a.m. for those born in 1998 or later. Registration begins at 1 p.m. for older participants.

Nintendo's Pokémon franchise, which features cute "pocket monsters," is considered the second most successful and lucrative video game-based media in the world, behind only Nintendo's own Mario series.