Pokémon Go-ing Wild

If you’ve been walking around the streets of New York, London, or just about anywhere, it is likely that you’ve seen the familiar site of someone with their eyes glued to their phone screen. However, rather than swiping right on Tinder or posting a new Instagram, it’s likely that they (or, quite probably, you) are on the hunt for Pokémon.

Pokémon Go fever is sweeping across the world, and everyone from Hillary Clinton to McDonalds Japan wants a piece of it. At a recent speech in Virginia, Hillary suggested creating PokeStops at polling stations to encourage voting. Sure enough, Donald Trump jumped on the band wagon, creating his own ‘Crooked Hillary’ Pokémon character, describing Hillary as untrustworthy with a next ‘Evolution’ of ‘Unemployed’.

It’s not just politicians who are utilising the Pokémon craze, cafes and stores have increased their traffic flow by creating PokeStops at their venues. In Japan, McDonalds have become the first sponsored ‘gyms’ and are offering six different Pokémon happy meal toys. Even a dog shelter in Indiana has successfully used Pokémon Go to encourage people to walk their rescue dogs, exponentially increasing their volunteer count.

Pokémon Go is even changing the gendered culture of gaming. The reality aspect of Pokémon Go means that women do not feel they have to conceal their true identity. People can no longer hide behind screens trolling and harassing women. In fact, Pokémon Go has increased human interactions in the gaming world and has taught people things about their city that they never knew before. Not to mention, people are actually moving.

Unfortunately it’s not all fun and games. Pokémons have been reported to have been caught in inappropriate locations including Holocaust memorials and cemeteries. People are so focused on catching Pokémon that they sometimes lose sight of actual reality, causing danger to themselves and others.

Nevertheless, it seems as though Pokémon Go and augmented reality games have a bright future ahead. They present opportunities for engaging with consumers in a whole new way. Charities can take advantage of Pokémon Go by creating PokeStops in their centres to encourage people through the door. This is made possible by submitting a PokeStop request on the Pokémon Go website. Gamers will also want to stay a little longer if you can provide charging facilities, as the game eats up phone battery. Maybe whilst the gamers are charging up before their Pokémon hunt continues, you could give them some more information about the charity…

Businesses and charities alike (who haven’t already) need to take note. 

  – Helena Farrell