If you haven’t heard about Pokémon Go yet, then you haven’t been paying attention. My passion for all things learning games always leads me to try new games and genres so I downloaded Pokémon Go mostly to see what the fuss was about and to see what, if anything transferred well to a learning game application.
There’s a lot to like about this app, and a lot of ideas to be gained from it. Here are five things I noticed and appreciated:
1. It fosters social connections and gets people interacting with one another.
Pokémon Go has created an experience that gets people talking to each other. In my office, we are sharing strategies. We are comparing our Pokédexes. We are discussing teams, gym locations, and Pokéstops. This mobile app has found a way to connect people in the real world. Good games should get people talking about the experience with each other even when they aren’t playing the game itself. This conversation fosters a feeling of belonging, which is a powerful positive in any work setting.
In a recent post, “Why IT Leaders Should Pay Attention to Augmented Reality,” Gartner Group analysts say “device mesh” helps people make these social connections.
2. It’s super simple to learn to play.
In my experience, the biggest barrier to getting employees within an organization to play a game is getting them over the hump of learning how to play the game. People who consider themselves part of the gamer subculture tend to gravitate toward complex games as a sort of badge of honor. They may enjoy complex rules and there is a jargon with some of these games that someone who only plays occasionally will not understand. Pokémon Go keeps it pretty simple. You can figure out the logistics as you go along. Even better, you can chat with a friend or coworker who is playing. And chances are, you’ll get a tip that helps you advance. I’ve learned that simple tends to work best with learning games as it keeps the barrier of resistance low for those who don’t typically play games.
3. It has a clear non-game goal (get people to exercise more).
That’s what learning games do as well; they use a game approach to help people with a non-game topic or learning need. Pokémon Go does a nice job of illustrating how this is possible and how effective it is.
4. The scoring and rewards hit the sweet spot.
They don’t happen so frequently that you cease to care, but occur frequently enough that you feel a clear sense of progress and accomplishment. In learning games, figuring out scoring and rewards is often one of the toughest things to do well. It’s critical that you reward people for performance and not just completion. Pokémon Go does a nice job of showing how you might do this.
5. The augmented reality is brilliant.
I’ve wanted to do something with augmented reality for a long while. I think it has tremendous application for learning. Pokémon Go even helps people understand what augmented reality IS… and it enables us to see how we could use it in a work setting. I imagine a game for new-hires where they play a scavenger hunt-style game while acquiring basic info on policies, procedures, functional areas, industry knowledge, etc. They might be trying to spot and snare a character of some sort at various locales within a business or by engaging specific people in conversation. If played simultaneously with other new-hires, you can foster community, deepen knowledge, and allow people to ramp up on the basics without sitting at a desk reading piles of stuff.
If you haven’t yet downloaded the game, I encourage you to do so. Spend a few weeks playing it and see what possibilities you can imagine. What kind of learning game does Pokémon Go open your eyes to creating?