Woo, on to the bandwagon I go, roll up for my hot take… (And a links round up, which you can skip to the bottom for if you like).
SO I tweeted this earlier today
Re last RT, how long until I'm listening to someone in museums talk about creating an AR based game "like Pokemon Go"…
— Martha Henson 💚🌍 (@marthasadie) July 14, 2016
I was kidding, but it turned out I was already too late, as people messaged me to say they had already heard this happening.
Listen, the massive success of Pokémon Go is very interesting, no doubt. I’m enjoying playing it, and that’s despite the fact that the collecting/battle game mechanics themselves are not even that compelling. It’s just fun seeing pokémon out in the real world and the surprise of finding them, the collecting and evolving and sharing the pictures and so on is enjoyable too, plus I found out about several local landmarks I hadn’t noticed before, bonus.
And yes, the collecting is obviously something museums can relate to, museums love collecting based games. However, museums are not Pokémon, they do not have objects as beloved as Pikachu (sorry), they do not have the staggering reach and influence and years of brand development that Pokémon has, and they do not have the budgets, not even close. Amongst other things (Dan Hon’s post on how to replicate Pokémon Go’s overnight success explains this excellently, thanks to Chad Weinard for pointing me at that). And believe me, I’ve tried something in this vein. I still love Magic in Modern London but getting traction on something like that was insanely difficult.
My original tweet was in response to this, which sums it up:
Broken tech culture is seeing the success of Pokémon Go & attributing it to AR instead of a huge 25-year-old global cultural phenomenon.
— Anil Dash (@anildash) July 13, 2016
I’ve been in countless discussions with people at cultural organisations who point at similarly huge success stories (“we’re thinking maybe we could do something like Clash of Clans?”) and want a piece of it. I understand why, but Clash of Clans is no overnight success either. Making games of that complexity takes serious time, expertise and budget. I’m a big advocate for museums doing games, but they need to be different beasts: simpler, and more focussed. (Not convinced? Hire me to run my game design workshop in your organisation and you’ll have created something like this by the end of the day).
It is good, however, to see museums embracing Pokémon Go itself and getting excited about it. It has already driven up attendance at some museums. So here’s my round up of the interesting stuff I’ve seen so far on it:
- Pokémon at the V&A: unpicking the GPS and tagging tech behind the Pokéstops in the V&A (via Chris Unitt’s newsletter)
- Pokémon at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum: What happens when your sensitive site becomes part of a game? Vox explores attempts to remove a stop at the Holocaust Memorial.
- Museum Hack on using “lures” in Pokémon to “catch millenials”, that elusive and apparently desirable audience.
- Is Pokémon Go a blessing or a curse for historic sites and museums? Mentions tour guides building in time for collecting.
- The Secret Sauce in Pokémon Go: Big Data by Barry Joseph “when you play Pokémon Go, you are playing Google Maps”.
- The National Parks Service has released a video suggesting that people come and play but look up from their screens. Not sure this is the most effective tactic, but props for quick response.
- Pokémon Go users flock to museums, passing Picasso in favour of Pikachu.
- The Museum Playbook has created a Pokémon Go playbook for museums with suggestions for driving player traffic to the museum.
- A plea from Mar Dixon to think carefully before jumping on the bandwagon as a museum.
- I predict everyone writing about location based experiences will crowbar in a reference to Pokémon Go from now on, even if it is completely unrelated: Pokemon not the only game in town: Field Museum creates ‘warrior’ hunt.
- A suggestion from a redditor.
Seen anything else? Share it in the comments.