Monday, July 25, 2016

Podcast on Pokemon Go

Here is our podcast on the subject starring myself, Beth (circulation/tech services) and Suzanne (reference/YA) As we keep playing, we start to learn the finer details behind the Pokemon Go phenomenon and explain it for non-users or the curious. On a side note: I am now level 19 :)

Monday, July 11, 2016

Pokemon Go Update: I Just Won Our Gym!

I had been out all weekend walking around catching Pokemon and all that worked payed off as I came into work (EARLY a first) just so I could see if I could win our library gym. I easily defeated the yellow team that was in charge of the gym and now it has become a red team training area. So what does that mean?

All weekend I have cavorted around downtown Plymouth, MA and areas of Boston, MA to catch common Pokemon like Pidgeys and Weebles or a few more alluring rare ones that popped up like this Scyther (it's on the Charles River BTW).  By catching even the most common Pokemon duplicates, I earned stardust and candies to evolve my stronger Pokemon to begin taking over gyms.

When you first visit a gym (you have to be pretty close to the site in order to battle) you choose a color: red, yellow or blue. Once you have chosen, it is a forever solidified choice. Now I can go to gyms marked RED to train my Pokemon and earn my gym prestige. If I am in charge of the gym, earn coins to buy extra items. If the gym shows up another color, I can try to battle the Pokemon that lead the gym with my strongest Pokemon, in this case CP 535 and a few other stronger ones, into battle. You have to fight and win against all the people who have placed Pokemon at the gym. Once you have defeated all of them, the gym turns grey and you have to click in it again to claim it for your color (Red in my case) and leave one of your Pokemon there to defend it.  I immediately posted on our social media sites that I had taken over the gym and challenge others to come try to take it over or to train on team red. If you haven't made an account yet, you might want to have your screen name say your library so everyone knows that you have won.  I just used my email address and now I regret it.

I left my 3rd strongest Pokemon there as I can keep battling against myself to earn prestige with my stronger Pokemons and try to level up the gym. Once the gym's level has increased, more Pokemon can be left there by others on your same color team to defend the gym. How do you battle? Just tap your Pokemon on the phone screen and swipe to dodge attacks. If you hold your finger down long enough and release, you can do a special attack.

If any library has circulate-able mobile hot spots now is the time to advertise. This game eats through your data plan and some rural areas get very little signal. Having a mobile hot spot in your pocket (or setting one up at a gym or Pokestop nearby) will increase the stability of the game play.

While I was playing this weekend, I was surprised by the number of people (20-30s mostly but I did see some parent/child teams) out playing.  At Pokestops, people can drop "lures" which look like petals or confetti falling from the stop. The lure attracts Pokemon to the area for 30 minutes. When I observed lures being dropped you always knew the spot because there were 30 people milling about on their phones each looking up and talking to each other as we realized that we are all playing the same game. If your library is a Pokestop, rather than a gym, you can drop lures and advertise on social media the time and the place.  If your library happens to have a special rare Pokemon in the area, Boston Public Library had one but my phone died, it's worth telling people. #pokemongo is already up and running as well as many Facebook pages like Pokemon Go Massachusetts.  For those in the south shore, Pokemon Plymouth, where users are connecting and sharing tips and scheduling meetups. The site, reddit is also full of tips.

I have to admit I've been to Boston numerous times and never once knew there was a Houdini plaque to commemorate his jump in 1908 on the side of the Harvard Bridge leading to the Charles or ever visited Paul Revere's grave near the Boston Common until they were Pokestops.  This game encourages exercise (as my Fitbit has given me much praise for the 15 miles I've clocked in 2 days) and a bit of history. Not to mention, it got me socializing with strangers!We are in the next generation of gaming. Librarians put your thinking caps on as we can try to embrace and promote this in our communities while the "iron is hot".  I'll let you know how long it takes for me to be "dethroned" meanwhile here is me posing with Psyduck on Atlantic Ave in Boston.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

We are a Pokemon Go Gym!

In game play with the red marker being a GYM stop for the library
I was pretty excited to walk into work today to find out that the library is a Pokemon Go gym. What's Pokemon Go? Well my Facebook feed has been flooded with it this week as libraries and my friends in their 30's discover its magic. This free app, with in app purchases, debuted this week
for both iOS and Android devices. Pokemon Go is everything you loved about the original Pokemon games only better because this is a real live scavenger hunt. You turn the app on, you physically walk around wherever you are (and walk, and walk and walk..seriously I did 4 miles just yesterday looking for Jigglypuff) and Pokemon pop up to catch. As long as you have a Pokeball, you can capture it. Once you reach level 5, you can bring them to a GYM stop to train and battle.  Depending on the color of the gym, you can leave a Pokemon there to "protect and claim" it. Right now we have someone guarding our library gym spot with a level 157 Pidgeyoto so I'm not going there just yet.  I only started Saturday and I'm level 6 with a level 144 Oddish. You can level up just by walking but capturing Pokemon is faster.

 A quick 5 minute walk outside the library brought up 3 Poke stops where you can spin a virtual picture of the spot for free items like more Pokeballs or potions. These stops are usually near historic sites around town. One stop I have never noticed in 3 years yet I walk by it all the time. If your
library isn't a stop or gym just yet there's nothing you can do about it. At this point they are pre-generated.  You need to download the app (or ask someone) to figure out what you are. Once you are close enough to a stop, the cubes on top of the stops will change to a circle and you click on the circle. Once the picture comes up, you swipe your phone to spin it for items.

I caught a Pidgey at the library
Different Pokemon pop up at different locations. Near water you are more likely to get water Pokemon or you can wait till night time when some nocturnal Pokemon come out. There is a rustling of green leaves on screen to hint where Pokemon might be. By right clicking on the bottom right of your screen bring up a map of foot prints (1,2,3) to signify how close you are to a creature. Your phone will buzz to alert you if anything pops up so you don't have to walk with it in front of your face the entire time. Once you tap on the Pokemon that has appeared, your phone's camera opens and you see the creature "in real life".  This is a feature you can turn off with the AR switch. You swipe across the screen with your Pokeball to capture. When you hold your finger down over the Pokeball, a circle will appear on the Pokemon. Orange means they are a bit feistier and you might need to feed them some razberries or use a great ball. Keep capturing the same Pokemon repeatedly so you can keep the highest leveled one and trade back in the rest to the professor for candy to evolve them. Mostly I keep finding Pidgeys, Rattatats, and Weedles but certain areas have special Pokemon with urban areas being more of a popular hot spot.

You don't have to physically go into a buildings, as a cheeky police station has already posted, as long as you are a few feet "near" it. So people can use your library if it is a gym even during closing hours depending on where it is placed. I found a few inside my house, a Psyduck even popped up in the bathroom this morning. I feel bad for this poor guy. 

So what can the library do? Well this is IMHO virtual making. The Pokemon you collect can be trained here to get stronger and evolve if your library is a gym. Maybe a contest to highlight who claims the gym on different days? Maybe a scheduled meet-up where Pokemon Go players can talk, team up and share what they collected. For example: WHERE DO YOU FIND JIGGLYPUFF? I STILL NEED TO KNOW! I made the top graphic in Photoshop to put on our library doors and plastered it all over our Facebook and Instagram with the #pokemongo hashtag. I'm already looking forward to all the conversations I have with kids that come into the library and connect with them as we compare what different kinds of Pokemon we caught.

As I became an adult with much more responsibilities, it became harder to find time to sit and play really involved video games but this one is great.  I can just turn my phone on when I'm walking around already. Keep in mind when you have the app open your data plan is being used. The competition between my friends has gotten fierce to see who is the highest level and it is only day 3. It encourages players to be physically active and aware of their local historical sites. It brings the community together of all ages (Pokemon has been around since the 90's!) and the library can easily be a part of this pop culture phenomenon in the latest step in the evolution of the Pokemon legacy. So download the app and buy as many Pokemon books and DVDs as you can! Who's hosting a Pokemon party?