PokemonGo For It!

This morning I was out for a walk after an early morning Bootcamp session, to ease my jelly legs, when I stumbled across a jellyfish-type Pokemon. And it got me thinking.

A seaside Pokemon on the beach

A seaside Pokemon on the beach

I wrote a blog post a couple of weeks ago about where you can find Pokestops and Pokemon in local heritage attractions which have free entry and it went down well, on the whole. But some people are still cynical.

So, as my Day Of Archaeology started with some exercise and a Pokemon, here are my Top Five PokemonGo thumbs ups, and why it is brilliant for heritage and for health too.

1.  You don’t have to stare at the screen to use it

Most of us will have seen a video clip of someone walking along, staring at their screen, with no clue as to where they’re walking. This has been happening for much longer than PokemonGo has been around, sadly! The PokemonGo App will actually continue working and still vibrate/give a notification if you pass a Pokestop or a Pokemon etc if you turn it upside down (into sleep mode) and pop it in your pocket, or carry your phone by your side. So it’s unlikely you will walk into a wall/lake/child before noticing them. Unless it’s intentional.

2. You have to physically walk to use it

In the App you can see yourself and your surrounding area. There is a little bit of zoom in and out, but you can’t pan the map. i.e. if you want to see if there is a ‘Gym’ or a Pokestop over about half a mile away, you have to get up off your butt and go for a walk. Cunning plan, and I like it.

3. You have to walk a certain distance to hatch Pokemon Eggs

At a Pokestop you can collect Pokeballs, which you catch Pokemon in, and other items, such a eggs. If you get an egg, you can incubate it and the incubation process will only complete if you walk 2k, 5k, or 10k (with better Pokemon the further you have to walk). How’s that for an incentive to go for a stroll!

4. Many of the Pokestops are at historical landmarks

You don’t necessarily know where a Pokemon might actually appear. That’s part of the fun. But you can visit Pokestops to collect items such as those mentioned above, or medicine for Pokemon, and Lure potions which attract Pokemon to a location. You can see these Pokestops scattered about, marked on your map as you move around. Most of the Pokestops are at historical places and local landmarks, which gives us in the heritage sector a great opportunity. PokemonGo users are likely to visit a place if they know it has a Pokestop or a Gym (where you can battle Pokemon against each other). Once they have collected the items, or played a battle, and possibly caught a Pokemon- which all in all may take about 10 minutes, tops – they’re looking for something else to do. So if you have a museum, heritage site, country park, visitor attraction, PokemonGo is your very own Lure potion. They will come, so welcome them in and you may just have found yourself a market you would normally struggle to reach.

So if you have a museum, heritage site, country park, visitor attraction, PokemonGo is your very own Lure potion.

5. Pokestops are usually accompanied by a short fact about the place it’s in

The developers of PokemonGo have actually utilised the framework and data from another successful App which already exists, and just ‘Pokemonned’ it. So, in effect, the Pokestops and Gyms already existed from the game ‘Ingress’ long before PokemonGo was thought up. (Incidentally, if any of the points/stops are in a place you think is unsuitable, insensitive or dangerous can be reported easily and taken down. Hopefully most of this should already have been sorted through the older App anyway). With the adoption of the Ingress App data came a little information with each stop. So when you reach a location, many tell you a fun fact about the place you’re in. I’ve popped some examples below in the pictures. I learned something new (about a local who was a pioneer of wireless telegraphy and was one of the first people to experiment successfully with the sending of the spoken word through space! A Caernarfon boi!) when I was on the PokemonGo App in Caernarfon, the day after it launched. I’m in Caernarfon a lot, and was confident I knew the history well. So if I can learn something so easily and so soon after starting play, I wonder what else I will find out as I go. My search for Pokemon has resulted in a search for knowledge too.

Some people have told me that the ‘silly fad’ is dangerous. Unfortunately the handful of incidents out of the tens of millions of users (yup, during its first week of availability it had more downloads than any App in history!) have been lapped up by the press, only highlighting some irresponsible users ignoring the HUGE warning every time you open the App to stay fully aware of your surroundings.

Some have commented that children should be playing outdoors anyway, not needing a screen or a game. “They should be catching fish, not pokemon!”. Well, sometimes it just ain’t that easy, buster! Slow clap for you! We are in a digital age, and if this App encourages those who would usually sit in a darkened room playing computer games, only otherwise lured out by the smell of bacon being deliberately wafted up the stairs, to see some sunlight and get some exercise, then how on earth is this a bad thing?!

I’ve been confronted by someone saying that there is no way that anyone playing ‘that game’ will appreciate the place they’re in, so the heritage site will actually be ignored and, in essence, taken completely for granted. I say- if that happens, it happens. They may not read the ‘fun fact’ which accompanies the Pokestop, but if they do, at least they’re going away with something. But it is our job in the heritage sector to open our arms up to this potential new market of people we may otherwise never see and make their transition from catching a Pokemon to catching some culture as easy as possible.

PokemonGo’s tag line is:

Get up and Go!

And I add to that, if you’re a parent, a visitor attraction, and especially if you’re a cynic: “PokemonGo for it!“.

Have fun, get fit, see nice places and, you never know, you might learn something 😉