Some people think that walking under a ladder is bad luck. Others knock on wood so they don‚Äôt tempt fate. And we can‚Äôt forget about the people who avoid the number 13. Some people even press ‚Äúdown B‚ÄĚ after they throw a Pokeball in Pok√©mon games, because they think it will help them capture monsters with ease. Wait, what?

Ever since the release of Pok√©mon Red and Blue twenty years ago, there has been a constant superstition in the Pok√©mon fandom: if you press something specific, you can alter how effective a Pokeball is whenever you try to capture a Pok√©mon. The specific button presses I‚Äôve heard about the most is ‚Äúdown B,‚ÄĚ which involves pressing down on the D-Pad while simultaneously pressing the B button the second that a Pokeball closes around a Pok√©mon. There are variations of this practice, however. I‚Äôve heard of ‚Äúup B,‚ÄĚ I‚Äôve also heard of only pressing B. Hell, I‚Äôve heard of alternating mashing both the A and B buttons.

[This post originally appeared on April 6th 2015.]

The most fascinating part of this superstition is that most Pok√©mon players know it doesn‚Äôt work. The only things that can affect capture rates are the type of Pokeball you‚Äôre using, as well as the health and status of the Pok√©mon you‚Äôre trying to capture. The more damage a Pok√©mon has taken, and the more status effects they have, the easier it is to capture something‚ÄĒespecially if you‚Äôre throwing a higher-grade Pokeball into the fray. There is no special code or button presses that can change the capture rate of a Pok√©mon. And yet, a sizeable chunk of Pok√©mon players press Down B whenever they throw a Pokeball anyway. I bet some of you have been doing it all weekend, now that Red and Blue have been re-released on the 3DS virtual console.

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Why do we do it? The reasons are varied, as I found out after polling my Twitter followers last year. Some people press Down B because it‚Äôs a habit‚ÄĒit‚Äôs pretty common to hear that people have been pressing down B since childhood, when they were initially tricked into thinking the button presses had an effect. Some habits are hard to break! Others press Down B because it‚Äôs comforting. Here is some of what people said to me after I asked them why they pressed Down B:

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To my surprise, I found that Pok√©mon superstitions vary depending on the generation of Pok√©mon game in question. For old-school fans that have been playing since the days of the Game Boy, the superstition involves buttons you‚Äôd find on a Game Boy system‚ÄĒin this case, the D-Pad and the A and B buttons. Somehow, though, younger Pok√©mon players developed entirely new superstitions for their games, all of which incorporated newer features on Nintendo handhelds. Specifically, I heard superstitions revolving around a handheld‚Äôs microphone:

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Sometime around 2006 or 2007, a more ridiculous version of this superstition appeared: some people believed that if they said ‚ÄúGOTCHA‚ÄĚ into the microphone, then it would increase the likelihood that their Pokeball would be successful at capturing a Pok√©mon.

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It’s difficult to pinpoint where the original variation of the rumor started. With the microphone superstitions, the origin seems clearer: there are actually mechanics tied to the microphone in Pokémon. Or there were, at some point:

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Now with the advent of Pok√©mon Amie, a feature that lets you interact with your Pok√©mon via touch screen and camera, the belief that you can talk into the microphone and affect your Pok√©mon in some way has lived on. If your Pok√©mon can see you via the camera, what‚Äôs to say they can‚Äôt also hear you? And if the game uses the microphone, what‚Äôs to say there isn‚Äôt some sort of hidden mechanic that will give you a small boost whenever you try to capture a Pok√©mon? It‚Äôs easy to see how the inclusion of the microphone snowballed into what it is now, despite how outlandish the accompanying superstition is. The idea that you can affect your game via a secret mechanic is just too seductive‚ÄĒnobody wants to let go of it, even if they know it doesn‚Äôt work.

What makes the latest variation of the Pok√©mon superstition so incredible is that it popped up during the age of the internet, when nothing is a mystery. Nowadays, it‚Äôs way harder to start a myth like ‚Äúyou can revive Aeris,‚ÄĚ because everything is a simple Google search away. And yet this Pok√©mon superstition continues to live on, each time morphing to the specific capabilities of the handheld system people play the games on. I have no doubts that players will develop new superstitions that are tied to the specific features of whatever systems Pok√©mon appears on next. In the mean time, Pok√©mon veterans like myself will happily continue to press Down B, regardless of how effective it is. Some things just never change.

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To contact the author of this post, write to patricia@kotaku.com or find her on Twitter@xpatriciah.