by Neal Cook, Front Rush
By now, you’ve probably heard the word ‘Pokemon Go’ hundreds of times. You may have even seen some people – more than normal – walking around staring at their phones. Odds are they are trying to catch digital Pokemon. So what is Pokemon Go and why is it taking the world by storm? To understand Pokemon Go, you must first understand the origins.
Pokemon was originally a concept from a video game designer named Satoshi Tajiri. Tajiri had a childhood obsession with insect collecting and a passion for video games. Hence, the original Pokemon game (pokemon is a combination of the words pocket and monsters).
If you were a kid in the 90’s, chances are you had a Gameboy and played Pokemon non-stop. The game, coupled with a hit TV show, made Pokemon a cult-phenomenon. But that was 20 years ago.
Flash forward to the present. Pokemon Go was released on July 5th. It’s a free, augmented reality, mobile game that can be downloaded on most iPhone and Android devices. Augmented reality blends the real world with technology. The game uses your phone’s GPS sensors to track where you are and uses Google Maps as your game board. You can’t play this game sitting in your house. You need to get out and move. As you walk around in real-life, Pokemon will appear and you can catch them with your digital Pokeballs (sounds kinda lame, but it’s actually really cool). Depending on your location, you’ll notice different Pokemon. Fire-type Pokemon appear close to gas stations, grass-type Pokemon appear in parks, water-type Pokemon appear when you are by water. Chances are your school has some unique Pokemon that your recruits and team would love to catch.
Why should you care about all this? Because it’s huge. Really huge. As of Monday, July 11th, the game was seeing about 21 million daily active users (in a span of a week). In terms of daily users, it is the biggest mobile game in U.S. history. While it’s hot, it’s most likely playing a role in the lives of the student-athletes you engage with.
How can you use your knowledge of Pokemon Go with your recruits and team?
#1 Check to see if your school is a PokeStop or Gym.
A PokeStop is a predetermined landmark that you can interact with and gather items (pokeballs, potions). Odds are, you’ll have a few these on your campus. Gyms, on the other hand, allow you to battle your Pokemon against other real people. Both draw users of the game to their locations (small businesses are actually using Pokemon Go to bring customers to their businesses).
#2 Catch Pokemon with your recruits
Recruits and parents are coming on campus to learn about your university and program. That comes first, but doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun along the way. Maybe take a detour to your local Pokestop/Gym on campus and catch a few Pokemon. Doesn’t have to be for long. But this would be a great icebreaker and show the recruit you are pretty cool and in-the-know.
#3 Tell your recruits which Pokemon you caught
Next time you send an email to your recruits, let them know how many Pokemon you’ve caught or which Pokemon has the strongest CP (combat power). Recruits will get a kick out of it. Maybe it’ll even spark a larger conversation about your program.
#4 Have fun with your team
Most of your team is already playing. After practice or a meeting, lighten the mood by having a Pokemon walk with your team. Sure, some might be “too cool’ to participate, but it’ll be a great team-bonding experience.
Pokemon Go is a global and cultural phenomenon that may or may not be here to stay. Familiarize yourself with how it’s being used within your world. Get creative in how you could use it to engage with your team, recruits, and even your University as a whole.
Gotta catch ‘em all!