Not to date myself, but back in my original Pokemon day, Pokemon lived on either a red or blue Nintendo Gameboy cartridge and there were only about 150 of them, which you caught and forced to fight with one another for the sole purpose of acquiring as many as you could. While my interest in the pocket-sized monsters has waned significantly in the 18 years since the game’s first North American incarnation, it’s safe to say I might be in the minority in that regard.
Never mind the countless television shows; card games; video games, ranging in version name from primary colors to precious gems and metals; and related merchandise that has come upon us in the last two decades — where we’re at now is Pokemon Go.
For those not in the know quite yet, the easiest way I have found to explain Pokemon Go is by comparing it to Geocaching, only instead of finding real hidden treasures through exploration, you’re finding virtual Pokemon by staring at your phone and hopefully not accidentally walking into traffic.
You might be rolling your eyes, but the amount of attention Pokemon Go is receiving on the national level is undeniable (not Pogs-level attention yet, but I don’t see it stopping anytime soon so who knows), so we took a look across GateHouse Media newsroom for ideas on how they’re covering the latest digital craze.
While Pokemon Go is not exactly a social game in the sense that you interact in-game with other players, it is one that is highly visible across social media platforms, with a built-in camera that allows you to take pictures of the Pokemon you encounter, which can be turned around and shared as a sort of less gruesome hunting trophies.
Northwest Florida Daily News, which already does a wonderful job of showcasing beautiful local beaches, has taken it one step further and created fun galleries of area Pokemon trainers who have shared their beachy Pokemon Go images through social media accounts.
The Journal Star in Peoria, Illinois, created a Storify of social media posts from local users to enhance the online version of their report on the psychology that makes the app so wildly popular, which range from useful posts telling other players where various types of Pokemon can be caught to posts of bruised shins, skinned knees and other Pokemon Go-induced injuries.
Cape Cod Times even created an interactive map using Knightlab’s StoryMap of where trainers around the cape had been spotting various Pokemon. The map uses images submitted to an area Facebook group for local players to enhance their online coverage.
What are local players sharing that you can use to source material from?
StarNews has taken its Pokemon Go coverage straight to the social big leagues with Facebook Live video coverage not only explaining the ins and outs of the game, but also using it to promote a unique reader engagement-furthering contest.
Pokestops are in-game locations, tied to real world locations, that reward visiting players with free items designed to help further their progress in the game. When StarNews learned that their own building had been designated as such a spot, they decided to run a real world giveaway for local players who paid their Pokestop a visit. Reporters Hunter Ingram and Ashley Morris used Facebook Live to advertise the giveaway as they walked around downtown Wilmington, searching for Pokemon to catch. The live stream had a reach of more than 3,000 with more than 1,200 views, and made for a wonderful opportunity to turn online social engagement into real life social engagement.
“I think for a smaller event like this, it went very well,” Ingram said. “We had a few internet connection issues but about 15 people came by to get movie tickets and digital subscriptions. Our last gentleman, a IT consultant for the local school system, didn’t even know we were giving things away. He just knew we had a lure module on the Pokestop out front and his coworkers got him hooked.”
Are there Pokestops in your area that are running local promotions for players who stop by?
Like lawn darts and BB guns before it, few popular toys come without safety concerns from fans and critics alike, and Pokemon Go is no exception.
Both the AP and local law enforcement agencies across the country have reported on the potential safety hazards of people playing Pokemon Go while driving, and there have even been reports of instances of thieves using the app to target victims.
The StarNews spoke with local police in a recent article, who said they had already warned area players whom they’d caught trespassing while trying to catch Pokemon in a park after hours, and The Enterprise recently published a story about an area woman who’d almost been abducted off the street as she was engaged in her game when a suspicious van pulled up in front of her and she was approached by its driver.
What sorts of campaigns, silly or serious, are local organizations launching in your area in response to it being overrun with Pokemon? Have there been Pokecrimes reported?
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the Pokemon Go coverage I’ve seen so far is that as long as you’re willing to experiment and keep your mind open, there are almost as many angles for localization of your coverage as there are Pokemon to catch.