Pokemon Go in Museums

You’re probably wondering what a Pokemon Go game has to do with this blog. And if you know me, you’re probably wondering why I would even begin to write about gaming! Well, I’d like to quickly jump on the band wagon, which is fairly empty for the time being, of exploring how we might and should use Pokemon Go in Museums.

Hold the phone, what actually is it?

Let’s quickly tackle what it is because it’s all pretty new! The basic premise of the game is to catch Pokemon – not all that different right? Well, these Pokemon are out on your streets at this very moment. Charmander is chilling in Roundhay Park, Squirtle is doing some retail therapy in the Trafford Centre and you don’t want to know what Pikachu is up to…

This means you have to leave your house and physically go find them using the GPS map. It’s a Pokehunt. When you spot a Pokemon, your phone opens up the camera and voila, it shows that creature physically jumping up and down in the real world. You flick a pokeball at it to capture it and level up. You also join teams and take part in battles.

Nintendo has single-handedly managed to introduce the concept of ‘Augmented Reality’ to millions of people around the world over the course of just one weekend. Literally 48 hours. It is already so popular it is about to surpass Twitter in Daily Active users. The memes are already in full swing.

So how does this help Museums?

We all know Museums do everything they can to ‘catch’ this audience who annoyingly seem to be set on the hardest level. Professionals lead and take part in many conference workshops to discuss ways of engaging teenagers and young adults. Lots of museums already deliver outreach sessions, youth panels and festivals. But still we’re left scratching our heads thinking what the hell will interest them.

Well in one weekend Pokemon Go has this audience out of their houses, off their Xbox’s and into the real world. One glance at twitter proves that people are now visiting their local Museum. Yeah, maybe not for that really expensive artwork or precious collection item. No, they don’t give a monkeys uncle. But it has helped them step through that big, scary, irrelevant, old, boring or simply too far away door.

Good examples

Now it’s up to Museums to use this to their advantage. The Wellcome Collection has already started using social media to advertise their PokeStop business. The Delaware Museum of Natural History were super excited to find they have multiple gyms and Pokestops, as were the ExploratoriumCrystal Bridges blogged pictures of Pokemon in their gallery spaces and this was Rain Embuscado‘s experience of playing the game during a visit to MoMA.

What more can we do?

Tweeting and blogging like crazy is definitely a logical first step. I’m sure people will become more creative as time goes by. Someone already created a Facebook event to have a #Pokewalk through Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens, which attracted a thousand people. That is thinking on your feet, literally. We need to continue to think bigger and off the top off my head:

  • Print massive Pokemon Vinyls and plaster the front of your building
  • Organise Museum Pokehunts to replace treasure trails
  • Start a competition to capture snapshots of Pokemon by your objects
  • Hold a giant Flashmob in your gallery or Poke Party
  • Have a PokeGym? Use social media to regularly update on which team currently owns it
  • Utilise the charged for ‘luring’ feature to make it visible that you are attracting Pokemon
  • Link up with your neighbouring Museums to organise your own #Pokewalk
  • Have free charging stations!

More people will soon start to jump on this currently breezy bandwagon and it’ll start to feel as cramped as the London Underground on a weekday morning. So although I don’t think Pokemon Go is going to go away anytime soon, it is hot off the press so we all need to get our skates on if we want to benefit the most.

I’m converted

As someone who is not a fan of gaming, I am a fan of Pokemon Go. It has pulled people outdoors, encouraged more human interaction, given young people reason to visit new attractions and secretly increased their fitness levels.

I know it is attracting some negative media coverage and there are still a lot of issues to iron out with the app. And admittedly there will only be more questions, barriers and problems to tackle as more establishments figure out how to utilise it. But this is always the case with the unknown. All in all it is a great next step for gaming.

The release date for the UK is still undetermined, which means we have a bit of time to plan before the hype finally hits. So embrace this new technology, increase your Wifi strength and think wild thoughts on how to introduce Pokeplayers to your Museum.

Let me know if you have any ideas below!

But for now I must try to find my suddenly estranged 27 year old boyfriend who is roaming the streets in search of, you guessed it, Pokemon…


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