What To Do When Pokémon GO Takes Over Your Campus
College students tend to walk around campus with their heads buried in their phones. You may have already noticed, but it’s about to get worse. These hyper-engaged cellular zombies may appear to be walking around aimlessly, but chances are they’re actually using your campus as hunting grounds. They’re hunting Pokémon.
If your social media or marketing team is older than 40 and doesn’t understand where all the recent chatter about incubating eggs, taking over a gym, or generally talking trash about beating a team is coming from, then it’s happened: Pokémon GO has taken over your campus. This is a highly anticipated smartphone game that launched in the United States on July 8. In this game, you are a Pokémon trainer (which is a mashup of the words pocket and monsters), and your mission is to catch those Pokémon in the wild.
This game integrates a phone’s GPS technology and camera with real space. People have to actually get up and move around until a Pokémon pops up on the game map—which follows real geography of roads, paths, and landmarks.
Your campus is already integrated into the map. Landmarks like sculptures, signs, and buildings have been or will be tagged as Pokéstops or gyms. People will go out of their way to walk by these places to interact with the game.
The demographic for this game seems to range widely, anywhere between 4 and 30 years old. The Pokémon franchise has been around for 20 years, and players understand the game’s ecosystem and narrative. Those nearing their 30s play it for the nostalgia. The integration of Google Maps creates a real-world experience as it blends the game through augmented reality.
Why should you care about this silly little smartphone game? According to Forbes (original data from SimilarWeb), Pokémon GO is about to overtake Twitter in daily active users in a matter of days. Remember, this app just came out on July 8. Pokémon GO has an average usage of 43 minutes, compared to 22 minutes with Snapchat. Lastly, it has already overtaken Tinder in the number of Android installs. The usage is so staggering that Nintendo’s shares have increased by 25 percent at the time of this writing, and they’re holding off a global launch of the game until they can resolve the server overloads in the US market.
Now that I have your attention, you’re probably asking, how can I use this? Here’s the simple answer: don’t. Or rather, don’t impede the game for the students and visitors exploring every corner of your campus. These people are having fun becoming familiar with the facilities and landmarks that may not always get the attention they deserve.
If you do want to jump on the bandwagon, here’s a few tips to help you become a Pokémon-friendly campus and help people play the game.
Learn where the Pokéstops and Pokémon Gyms are located around your campus.
Have a student worker take an hour to walk around and make a list of all the Pokéstops and Pokémon Gyms on campus. Make sure campus security/police knows to check on hotspots that don’t normally get much traffic. Make sure they understand the gamers are there to interact with each other—they’re not loitering.
Don’t be afraid to talk about it.
If the download rates tell us anything, it’s that this game is seriously catching on. Tell your campus tour guides they shouldn’t be afraid to bring it up during tours—especially if there’s a group of 12 students awkwardly hovering around some place looking at their phones.
Help people explore campus.
Have a student that loves the game organize an all-campus Pokémon hunt. If the game is still popular during orientation week, create a walking route that includes the Pokéstops and Pokémon Gyms to help new students find their way around campus. Throw in a few tips as to what’s in each building or the artist who created an outdoor sculpture.
A positive side effect of all the game playing includes soreness, as these players accidently get exercise.