Next time you see a group of teenagers glued to their phones in public, do not assume they are on Instagram or Snapchat. Rather, they traveled to this specific location to replenish their supply of Pokeballs at what is called a Pokestop. That’s right. They are engulfed in the world of Pokemon GO, the smartphone application with a TWIST that is sweeping the nation.
As a rising high school senior, I have many friends who have been involved in the Pokemon franchise as long as I can remember. They would wait on the long lines at Gamestop and Best Buy for the release of each Pokemon installment. However, the game has never garnered my interest until now, with Niantic’s release of Pokemon GO.
In Pokemon games, you are thrown into a new world where wild creatures, named Pokemon, run free with special powers. A professor, an avid Pokemon researcher, asks you to catch different kinds of Pokemon and bring them back to him for his nonstop research. All the way, you battle other Pokemon “trainers” and level up.
Pokemon GO has a new TWIST: it incorporates the concept of augmented reality. The world we live in is merged with the Pokemon world, enhancing the reality we see day to day. This is quite different from virtual reality, where you are fully immersed in a new environment. While virtual reality simulates your physical presence in a new atmosphere and synthetically creates a sensory experience, augmented reality simply brings artificial aspects into the world we live in. Never has an augmented reality experience been so accessible before the release of Pokemon GO.
Pokemon GO’s other TWIST is its use of physical activity. In order to successfully play the game, you must be active. The app forces you to walk to new locations to make Pokemon appear, battle other players, and replenish your training supplies. In some cases, you must walk a certain distance, often between 2 and 5 kilometers, to activate certain aspects of the game.
Unfortunately, your supply of Pokeballs is limited. It is a devastating feeling to be without these red and white spheres, as they are essential for gameplay. The Niantic team found a way to incorporate physical activity with the replenishing of Pokeballs with the creation of Pokestops. These locations, usually found at landmarks, allow you to replenish your Pokemon tools every five minutes. You must be at this location for the Pokestop to be activated. Your local church, park, or memorial just may be a Pokestop! The concept of Pokestops works great for city dwellers, where there are multiple Pokestops on every block. Pokestops are much more scarce in rural areas, where players must travel half an hour to encounter one of these necessary locations.
Once you have enough higher-level Pokemon, you can go to locations with Pokemon gyms. These locations, also found at local landmarks, enable you to battle other players. Each Pokemon you catch is equipped with different attack s and health levels. The higher your Pokemon’s combat power, the better equipped it is for battles. If you are successful in beating the players in the gym, you then take over that gym, leading to many rewards. If you are unsuccessful, your Pokemon loses health. If it tragically loses all of its health points, it must be revived. You can do this by gaining revive tools at your local Pokestop.
Many workers at notable locations, where Pokestops and gyms are located, are in favor of Pokemon GO. Philadelphia park rangers welcome the game, as it draws a younger crowd to the city’s landmarks. The rangers hope that, once players arrive, they will look up from their smartphones and take in their surroundings. In contrast, other famous locations, like the Arlington National Cemetery and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, have different policies. These national treasures have asked Pokemon GO players to turn the game, and their phones, off out of respect.
Pokemon GO is revolutionary, and it is exerting a clear influence on teenagers, as well as twenty-somethings who have followed Pokemon since its initial release in 1996. Its TWISTS, augmented reality and physical activity, make the game unlike any application on the market today. If your children have not downloaded Pokemon GO yet, it is only a matter of time before the game takes over their lives.
How exactly does the game work? Essentially, when you open the app, your smartphone’s screen becomes a map of your surroundings, showing you streets, bodies of water, and more. When moving, different Pokemon creatures will often appear in your path. Once you click on the Pokemon you wish to capture, your smartphone’s camera is activated. The Pokemon is right in front of you! Swipe the Pokeball at the bottom of your screen to toss it at the Pokemon. With proper aim, the Pokeball will engulf the creature, adding it to your inventory.
Some Pokemon are rarer than others, making them harder to catch once found. The female Nidoran in the image to the right has a measly combat power of 10, making it a very common Pokemon that is easy to catch. Meanwhile, there are Pokemon with combat powers that exceed 1000. It is rumored that the more notable your location, the more notable the Pokemon you will encounter. You are more likely to find a rare Pikachu at the Eiffel Tower than you will in a rural Idaho potato farm. The rarest Pokemon that I have caught (so far) is a Venomoth with a combat power of 290 – not too shabby for a novice Pokemon player.
Think about ways you can TWIST to involve your customer more. There are easy-to-build app programs, loyalty apps, even the classic Bingo card or a “Find the star” on a receipt could make a more lasting impression on your market.
About the author:
Finding the right TWIST can help your brand innovate and deliver. In TWIST: How Fresh Perspectives Build Breakthrough Brands, Brand School founder Julie Cottineau provides a clear road map to build a stronger more distinctive brand – complete with examples from real life small business owners who have successfully completed our Brand School program. Pick up your copy today.