The game Pokémon GO has only been available for 6 days in a few countries. Already, it has been downloaded more than 7.5 million times in the USA alone and it is about to surpass Twitter in daily active users.
Pokémon GO is a new game that you play using a smartphone. Some say it’s the answer to childhood obesity because the game gets you off the couch and walking around the neighborhood. Have you noticed how many people are walking around your local park the last few days? Pokémon Go is having a massive social impact. But can you use Pokémon GO to share goodness?
A friend of mine posted this on Instagram:
On the average Sunday, there is no one in this park. Today? More than 50. That’s the power of a particularly rare creature in Pokemon Go….
This article gives some ideas on how individuals, families, wards, and stakes could use Pokémon GO to share goodness.
What is Pokémon GO?
It is a mobile app based on the popular Pokémon game by Nintendo. It uses your smartphone’s GPS and camera to make Pokémon characters “appear” around you (on your phone screen) so you can try to catch them. As you walk around, you will find different types of Pokémon, depending on where you are and what time it is.
The idea is to encourage you to physically move around in “augmented reality” (the combination of a game and the real world interacting together).
Various landmarks are designated as “Pokestops” where players can “find” various items that help with gameplay. Other landmarks are designated as “gyms,” or locations where players can “battle” other players.
Why does it matter to Latter-day Saints?
Since many LDS meetinghouses appear in popular mapping software, like Google Maps, it is common that the game is making creatures or supplies appear at these buildings. That means that many more people are suddenly visiting LDS meetinghouses, visitors’ centers, historic sites, and temples as they explore these surroundings while playing the game.
What can LDS leaders do?
It’s a good thing that people are visiting our Church buildings, even if it’s just to play a game. What should you do if players show up while you’re having a ward or stake activity? How about a “Welcome Pokémon Players” sign to encourage them to stay and participate in your activity? Perhaps you could hand out water bottles to show that we are friendly people.
Hosts at visitors’ centers and historic sites could welcome players to enjoy the displays and learn about the site. Visitors to temple grounds could be encouraged to respectfully enjoy their time there to feel the spirit and reflect on the significance of LDS temples.
What can you do?
Recognize that within reasonable bounds, augmented reality games can be wholesome and encourage physical activity. Using fitness trackers, some players are recognizing their daily activity goals while they are out hunting Pokémon.
Parents may consider planning a family home evening walking around the neighborhood together trying to capture Pokémon characters. Many of the characters appear in public locations, such as parks or historic sites. Last Saturday, at our family reunion in a park, some Pokémon characters appeared next to plaques that explained the history of the park. Such an activity could help your children learn more about their surroundings. A member created a whole month of family home evening lessons with Pokémon activities that you may want to consider.
Some families have gone to Temple Square and taken pictures of their family tracking down Pokémon characters around historical statues and then posting the experience on social media. It’s possible to #ShareGoodness while sharing #PokémonGo.
What ideas do you have to make Pokémon Go a positive experience with your family or ward? Post your ideas in the comments below.
More about Pokémon GO
Right now, the game is available in only a few countries, but it will be released soon worldwide.
According to an article in vox.com, “Part of the reason Pokémon Go is popular is that it’s free, so it’s easy to download and play. But more importantly, Pokémon Go fulfills a fantasy Pokémon fans have had since the games first came out: What if Pokémon were real and inhabited our world?”
The video below, Discover Pokémon in the Real World with Pokémon GO! shows how the game works.
Learn more about Pokémon GO:
- “How to play Pokémon Go” data-remote-admin-entry-id=”11913465″>How to play Pokémon Go“
- “Your biggest Pokémon Go questions, answered (update)
Be sure to share your experiences below.