Pokemon Go and Your Library

Unlike a traditional Pokemon game, Pokemon Go asks players to use the GPS function on their smartphone (iOS or Android) to find Pokemon out in the real world. In addition to searching for Pokemon that appear randomly on the map, players can also use Pokemon Go to find “PokeStops” and “Pokemon Gyms” in their quest to become an accomplished Trainer. It’s easy to think of Pokemon Go as an app that’s very similar to geocaching with a virtual prize at the end, but this gameplay description from The Pokemon Company is very helpful…

In Pokemon Go, players around the globe will explore their surroundings to find and catch wild Pokemon hiding in their midst. Some wild Pokemon appear in their native environments—for example, Water-type Pokemon may appear near lakes and oceans. Once players have encountered a Pokemon, they can catch it by using their smartphone’s touchscreen to throw a Poke Ball. Poke Balls and other special items can be found at PokeStops located at interesting places, such as public art installations, historical markers, and monuments.

Players can join one of three teams (Mystic, Instinct, or Valor), and assign Pokemon they have caught to an open Pokemon Gym location or to a Gym claimed by a fellow team member. Teams must battle against the defending Pokemon in their rival teams’ Gyms to lower a Gym’s Prestige and claim the Gym for their own team. Cooperation amongst team members is important in securing as many Gyms as possible.

So how can your library get involved with Pokemon Go? The game is all about exploration and exercise, so encourage patrons to search for Pokemon in the stacks (a photo contest would work well with this) and help them find nearby PokeStops and Gyms (many players are working together to add PokeStops and Gyms to this fully-editable World Map and artist Danny Fast has created a few freely-available posters to alert players a PokeStop is close by).

If you’ve got a particularly large library or school building to work with, you could even organize “adventure tours” for kids or teens to look for Pokemon or nearby PokeStops and Gyms (ideally, you could set off a “Lure” module ahead of time to increase the number of Pokemon in the area for 30 minutes). Another idea is to really run with the exploration angle and work with other local groups and businesses to create a Pokemon Go trail map of your hometown.

How you play Pokemon Go will be different in smaller towns versus larger cities, but Lauren Weiss, a Social Media Marketing Associate at the New York Public Library, wrote about her Pokemon Go experience at the library to give you an idea of what’s possible with the game.

If you still want to learn more about the game, Polygon has created a great guide to help Pokemon veterans (or complete beginners) get started with Pokemon Go.

Now… go catch ’em all!

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