The Social Intelligence of Pokemon Go

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By: 321

July 25, 2016

It’s Summer 2016 but it feels more like Summer 1999. Blink 182 is back on the radio, chokers are cool again, and Pokemon is the best thing since Super Mario Bros. Whether you want to view it as another mind-numbing, phone-addicting game or praise it as an innovative blending of technology and community, you can’t deny the fact that Pokemon Go has taken social intelligence to a whole new realm, and perhaps changed the future of media consumption.  

In case you haven’t already witnessed packs of 20-something year olds walking around with their phones held in front of their concerned-looking faces, here’s a brief synopsis. Pokemon Go is groundbreaking because it takes place in the physical world, meaning gamers can no longer play from the comfort of their couch, but actually have to get up and explore their surroundings. In fact, some goals of the game cannot even be achieved without walking or biking a certain amount of kilometers (still waiting for my first egg to hatch).

Real locations such as buildings, monuments, parks, and art installations stand as “Pokestops” where players can gain supplies along with gyms where they can fight the Pokemon they capture along the way. It’s at these spots that you are likely to run into other gamers, many times striking up conversation over what team is best (Go Mystic!) and helping each other along the way. As a matter of fact, creators Nintendo and Niantic purposefully made the game without precise instructions so you rely on fellow players to figure out how to “catch ‘em all”.

Why is it Groundbreaking?

Pokemon Go’s Augmented Reality (AR) feature is the first and most obvious step towards the future of gaming. Are we that much closer to Back to the Future-style hoverboards and clockstopper watches? Well, not so fast but we’d like to hope so. Secondly, it turns the stereotype of homebody gaming nerd on its head by bringing geeks and non-geeks of every age, race, and culture together. For perhaps the first time ever, brands have the chance to interact with these once separate demographics while sparking meaningful engagement and being a real part of the game.

While Pokemon Go may be just a stepping stone in a new direction of social engagement and digital marketing, the power of incorporating the physical and digital world into players’ experiences across societies is already changing the way we consume, react to, and engage with media. So how can you stay ahead of the trend and get your head in the game?

How to Embrace the Craze

Much like Pokemon Go itself, make your marketing tactics a social experience. If your business has a physical location you can make it a Pokestop. Purchase a “lure” module, which attracts pokemon to your business, consequently also luring in customers. Prices can range as low as $5 a day for 8, 30-minute lures. The beauty is that gamers can re-swipe the Pokestops every 5 minutes, so if there are a few lures out they are likely to stay awhile and check out your business.

If you’re not ready to be literally in the game, there are plenty of other ways to get out there with the players. Many shops and restaurants host Pokemon hunting parties, promoted on social media along with some sort of discount, special, or prize for those playing at their locations. Specific prizes can be set for having certain Pokemon or for reaching various levels. If you don’t have a physical location, get on social media and prove you’re up-to-date with the greatest media trend of 2016. Funny and timely social posts are sure to get lots of shares and engagement and can relate to a wide demographic of fans.

I’d like to think one day we’ll be telling our kids about the time Pokemon Go came out, but realistically by then our kids will already be AR/VR natives. As if the nostalgia isn’t enough, Pokemon Go harnesses the power of community and gaming and creates something that brings us together, which is something we can always use a little more of.

It’s safe to say that all of us here at 321 are hooked and looking forward to what Pokemon Go means for the future of how we create and interact with technology. For more updates on the latest in marketing, media, and social engagement, check out our blog!

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