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?


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