Pokémon GO! is a smartphone game that allows players to walk around and, in real-time, catch small animated creatures named Pokémon. These creatures are based off of real-life animals, and appear on your phone screen either on a pre-set screen or in augmented reality. Appearing in augmented reality simply means that the app connects to your camera so that the Pokémon can appear on the scene in front of you.
The Pokémon franchise is unique in that it appeals to everyone. The traditional ‘console' games are marketed and made for children around 10 years old – the protagonist of the games and TV show is a ten year old boy. This emphasis on younger children also contributes to making the games easy to play and learn. What makes the games cross-generational is the fact that the first game came out on February 7th, 1996, establishing a large number fans and well-loved games and characters. The franchise continued to gain popularity and now, twenty years later in 2016, this large, multi-generational following has made Pokémon a global phenomenon. Adults (who were the first children to love the games) and children alike play each game that comes out. This long history of popular games made it easy for Niantic and Nintendo to market the Pokémon games, and especially Pokémon GO!, to people of all ages.
With that being said, how do we go about utilizing a gaming app to benefit the Museum? Luckily, the way the game works makes that easy for us. In-game there are set places in real-life that the game has labeled as Pokéstops. These stops provide you with items that are essential to playing the game – things such as Pokéballs for catching Pokémon, and lures for attracting Pokémon. Pokéstops are the cultural, historical, and geographical landmarks that I mentioned before. Each Pokéstop has a picture so that you can make sure you’re in the right place. Museums count as a historical landmark, and are usually counted as Pokéstops! Ours looks like this (picture example). By promoting that we use the game through other social media posts we can prove that we are accessible and interesting to all age groups. As an added benefit, Pokémon often appear near these Pokéstops!