Gotta catch’em all: Experience a Pokémon GO adventure in the Calgary Region

by • August 17, 2016 • Community

By Chad Hason, Content Contributor

By all accounts, I’m an adult.

I’m married and gainfully employed.

In fact, I own my own business which I run out of my suburban home, close to my dogs and son.

I know how to grill and always eat my vegetables.

I keep a great lawn, pay my taxes, contribute to RRSPs and consider documentaries quite interesting.

Pokegym-Book-StackSo why then, do I find myself having lunch on a Thursday at a PokeStop with my fellow adult friend Chris who I was secretly jealous of his medal collection and openly mooching off his lures in an attempt to catch a Horsea while I strategize non-walking ways to make my eggs hatch?

At this point in the read you should fall into one of two camps:

  1. You read that last sentence without flinching, understanding exactly what I was doing.
    There’s no judgement, in fact, if you are team yellow – you may even feel an unspoken connection…

or

  1. You have no idea what I’m talking about.
    But now you suspect my earlier claims of ‘being an adult’ were most likely exaggerated – and more likely, were straight-up lies.

While I expect many of you fall into the second category – the number falling into the first is much larger than you may think.

 

Blast to the past: A worldwide phenomenon 

Pokemon-Go- map location

Pokémon Go, since it’s world-wide launch, has been downloaded millions of times.

According to Fortune.com, “Whereas Angry Birds 2 and Candy Crush Jelly Saga brought in 2.2 million and 1.8 million downloads respectively during their first week on the App store, Pokémon Go had a whopping 7.2 million downloads.”

There’s even a website that puts these crazy into visual perspective in real-time.

However, if for some reason you have yet to be introduced to this global sensation – let me catch you up quick:

Pokémon Go is an app that is a free-to-play, location-based augmented reality game. where players use a mobile device’s GPS capability to locate, capture, battle and

Players use a mobile device’s GPS  to locate, capture, battle and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on the screen as if they were in the same real-world location as the player.

It’s designed to get kids up off the couch and outside.

The more they move around, the greater their chances of becoming a Pokémon Master (joy!).

Pokémon isn’t new – if you’re a millennial, or raised one, you’ve probably seen the playing cards, the television show or the insane amount of branded merchandise.

 

Not just for kids

This revised 90s-themed game isn’t just for kids.

It’s attracting the attention of all kinds of adults – and for a variety of reasons that fall outside getting paid by the word to write about it. (Wink)

As an adult with adult friends, I can’t tell you how many have expressed joy about what the game has done for their kids’ habits.

They are willing to go places with their parents again.

Jaimie Hatter from Airdrie exclaims, “This summer has been amazing, I haven’t had to ask the kids to join me for walks or errands; they want to come so they don’t miss out on any Pokémon!”

It’s also a great way to explore a new town or city on your next road trip.

 

A Pokémon experience in the Calgary Region

My wife and I took our son up to High River a couple weekends back, and let the Pokémon Go App lead the way.

Once downtown, we parked next to the Museum of the Highwood and I did battle with a Seadra next to the Old Train station.

Afterwards, we were led to Colossi’s Coffee House (which doubles as a PokeStop Gym Level 2) where we treated ourselves to a coffee, some banana bread and chatted up the staff.

Sandy and Lee-Anne were the two smiling ladies behind the counter who admitted they’d seen an influx of young people since Pokémon Go began.

Collossi-Coffee-Shop-inside

“You can tell they are here because of Pokémon because they walk in here two or three at a time, glued to their phones and focused on the same front corner by the window.”

Sure enough, there was a Venonat ready to do battle, standing next to the window (he was lucky I was taking a break).

Collossi-Pokegym

I asked Sandy and Lee-Anne if they had considered taking advantage of the fact that Pokémon was driving kids their way, but to-date they said they hadn’t done anything to capitalize.

But the opportunity is certainly there.

Back in Calgary, local businesses like Limericks Pub and Analog Coffee Shop learned that attracting Pokémon Go enthusiasts translates into an amazing and cost effective marketing strategy.

For just $1.50 every 30 minutes, businesses can pay for Pokémon lures to attract Pokémon characters to their pub or restaurant.

The result is a community knowing they can catch quite a few if they simply hang out long enough.

And hanging out leads to product purchase, inviting friends and choosing the Pokémon-heavy businesses as their new go-to hangout.

It’s win-win!

After leaving the High River coffee shop, we followed the app to Dzona-Gu; a buffalo skull sculpture a few blocks away.

Pokestop-Dzona-Gu   Pokestop-Medicine-Tree-Mural

We also got ourselves some free Pokeballs at the town’s Chuck Wagon mural where we were almost run over by brothers Connor and Matthew.

Chuck Wagon Mural

Phones out and running full-tilt, they laughed when they saw me standing right where they had also been guided to go.

We talked a bit about Pokémon, shared a few stops we’d both seen and agreed Pokémon makes it pretty easy to find your way around some interesting parts of town.

These brothers were visiting from Red Deer and said their parents gave them 30 minutes of capture time before they headed home.

Young-Pokemon-Go-players

They tagged along as we all checked out High River’s H-Tree and Art and Soul Gallery near a large green park.

We took turns capturing a Rattata that dared show his face as we parted ways.

Pokestop-Art-and-Soul-gallery    Rattata-pokemon-go

On the way home, my wife, who hadn’t heard of the game before our trip, was already downloading her own version on her phone, saying “I always wondered what this was about – and it’s much more fun than I imagined!”

So – whether you are looking for a fun way to engage with your kids, an excuse to get outside, an opportunity to tour a new town or city – or a new way to attract customers to your place of business – Pokémon Go has what you’re looking for! (pun intended).

Chad Hason is a Canadian storyteller and owner of Candid MarCom.

 

 

From Pokéstops to out of the way attractions:

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One Response

  1. Chris Weingarth says:

    Saturday, August 27, 2016

    Hi Chad,

    Having read through your article several times my hope is that in addition to your not only being an adult and a fan of documentaries, you’re also someone who likes to read. A book I highly recommend you get ahold of is Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids – And How To Break The Trance, by Nicholas Kardaras, Ph.D. Before you do too much more shilling for Nintendo (wink) you may want to study up a bit on the effects of the “electronic cocaine” you’re promoting to kids and their unsuspecting parents.

    Perhaps “electronic cocaine” seems an overstatement. If anything, it more likely falls short of the mark:

    “In fact, glowing screens are such a powerful drug that the University of Washington has been using a virtual reality video game to help burn victims with pain management during their treatments. Amazingly, while burn patients are immersed in the game, they experience a pain-reducing, morphine-like analgesic effect and thus don’t require any actual narcotics. While this is a wonderful use of screen technology for pain-management medicine, we are also unwittingly giving this digital morphine to kids.
    “Ironically, while we’ve declared a so-called War on Drugs, we’ve allowed this virtual drug – which Dr. Peter Whybrow, director of neuroscience at UCLA, calls ‘electronic cocaine’; which Commander Dr. Andrew Doan, who has an M.D. and Ph.D. in neuroscience and heads addiction research for the U.S. Navy, calls digital ‘pharmakeia’ (Greek for ‘drug’); and which Chinese researchers call ‘electronic heroin’ – to slip into the homes and classrooms of our youngest and most vulnerable, seemingly oblivious to any negative effects.” (Glow Kids, p.4)

    And now this “digital drug” has slipped the bounds of home and classroom and is on the loose, thanks to location-based AR – Augmented, or Adulterated Reality (depending on your aesthetics and your comfort level regarding corporation-based manipulation of your environment).

    In your article you gush that Pokémon Go is “designed to get kids up off the couch and outside.” Nope. You’re a marketer, albeit one who always eats his vegetables, and you have to know that Pokémon Go was designed to do one thing only – make money for Nintendo.

    “… The video game business is a sophisticated, multibillion-dollar industry devoted entirely to creating addictive products aimed at defenseless kids and young people – like shooting fish in a barrel. According to Dr. Doan, the entire focus of the research and development departments of the gaming industry is to make games as stimulating and arousing to children as possible, because that’s what amplifies the addictive effect and sells the most games.
    “‘Gaming companies will hire the best neurobiologists and neuroscientists to hook up electrodes to the test-gamer. If they don’t elicit the blood pressure that they shoot for – typically 180 over 120 or 140 within a few minutes of playing, and if they don’t show sweating and an increase in their galvanic skin responses, they go back and tweak the game to get that maximum addicting and arousing response that they’re looking for,’ Dr. Doan explains. …
    “[In addition,] according to Dr. Whybrow: ‘When the stress response is continuously in play, it causes us to become aggressive, hypervigilant, overactive.’ Dr. Whybrow draws parallels between symptoms of tech addiction and those of clinical mania: rapid speech and excitement over acquiring new things are followed by sleep loss, irritability and depression.” (Emphasis added, Ibid., p. 22)

    So yes, kids are off the couch, but at the cost of having their neural-hormonal network hijacked.

    Oh, but what about the amazing things the game has done for kids’ habits now that they’re “willing to go places with their parents again”? That near-term compliance may also come at a high cost:

    “Earlier… we discussed the notion that exposing kids to hyperstimulating screen experiences conditions them to continually require stimulating screens in order to stay engaged. Sure, glowing screens may quiet little Johnny and Suzie down for a bit and make life for mom and dad a bit easier – in the short term.
    “As Dr. Susan Linn, author of Consuming Kids and a lecturer in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, puts it: ‘It’s true that if you provide children with a screen device when you go on car trips, take public transportation, or go for their annual physical, the periods you spend waiting may be more restful or easier to manage. But such convenience comes at a cost. It fosters dependence on screens to get through a day, and prevents children from getting in the habit of noticing, and engaging with, the world around them.’ …
    “Sure enough, ample research has shown that exposure to video games and television in childhood and adolescence is a significant risk factor for subsequent attention problems. …
    “‘The reality is that we’re seeing ten times more ADHD than we were seeing twenty years ago,’ says Dr. Dimitri Christakis, co-author of the study [“Television and Video Game Exposure and the Development of Attention Problems,” Pediatrics, 2010] and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington and a longtime researcher into screen effects. ‘I think that the concern is that the pacing of the program, whether it’s video games or TV, is overstimulating and contributes to attention problems.’” (Ibid., pp. 122-23)

    So Chad, I hope I’ve made a bit of headway in persuading you that Pokémon Go is not simply a “fun way to engage with your kids,” anymore than stepping outside for a cigarette with your son would be. The parallels between the gaming industry, and their marketing of addictive products to youth, and the unethical practices of the tobacco industry and their targeting of youth are apparent to me. Perhaps, after you’ve had an opportunity to study Glow Kids, they will be apparent to you as well. In such an event it would be refreshing to read a follow up article by you that discusses some of the downsides and potential health hazards of Pokémon Go. Something to consider.

    Sincerely,
    Chris Weingarth

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