Baby Bambiraptors! If Bambiraptors were to look like baby emus. And by that, I mean CUTE!
Theropod feet sketches
I'm starting to remember what it feels like to get a full eight hours sleep again. I was just in Iowa. And Alberta. And back again. And then Pokemon decided to take over the world, but they are rather the squishy-best overlords ever.
Because I work with the best people on the planet, we totally threw together a Pokemon Fossil event and gave out helix fossils. And since the museum has a gym, Pokestops, AND charging stations, I have proposed to change the name from "Museum" to "Pokemon Go Central."
I'm pretty sure they're going to get right on switching those signs.
It's only fair to tell you that this post is going to be more about explaining why Pokemon visitors are great for museums, although I did throw in dinosaur pictures. Dinosaurs make everything better. OK. You were warned. Forward to Pokemon in a poke-fun-at sort of way. Because a better understanding can't be bad, right?
WHAT IS POKEMON GO? If you have been immune to the craze that is the anime yellow rabbit with red cheeks known as Pikachu, let me lay it out.
This game is rather like biological surveying, geocaching, and dog fighting. But for kids.
You walk around and catch various critters in the game. Then you battle them at a gym. Team Red = Valor, Team Blue = Mystic, Team Yellow = Instinct. Team Yellow is the Hufflepuff of Pokemon teams, but if your nerd radar is off, none of what I just said was funny.
MYTH - MUSEUMS ARE DOOMED As myths that refuse to die go, this one seems to linger. The internet was supposed to be the end of museums and education. Then VR. Now AR.
I don't think that is the case. Now, you could counter that statement by pointing out that the person who made it has done nearly 10,000 miles in 2 weeks with hardly any sleep, and you wouldn't be wrong. But here's the thing. Museums are not doomed. Historic buildings are not going to become standing temples to the wide wide world of arachnids. Targeting audiences, making great exhibits, reaching out to educators, is time better spent than standing in the rain with a cranked up boombox playing Whitney Houston outside a coveted group of millennials. "I-E-I, WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOUUUUU...."
Pokemon Go has been the first event in a while to cause people to shout at each other, "Get thee to a 'zeeum!" (I'm pretty sure that's how kids talk these days.) You may not understand the game, you may not care about Pokemon. That's OK. But you can welcome the visitors, and they can leave having had a positive experience. Their museum experience might be different than what you envisioned as a 'museum experience' but everyone will have a good time. Win-win!
AVOIDANCE OF EYE CONTACT There is an assumption out there that gamers are unfit to handle social interaction. Allow me to raise an eyebrow every time I'm out with someone who says the game is distracting, as though people weren't glomed onto their phones, unobservant about the world around them before the existence of Pokemon. It would appear to some that players are just waiting to fall into a canyon, crash into your car, or impact, via inconvenience, your personal life in some way at any moment.
Did we solve the human condition of poor judgement before the release of Pokemon Go? Did I miss it? Sorry, I was away.
There is a chance to explain why Pokemon is not appropriate for all spaces. No one is suggesting the Holocaust Museum was a good choice. And some spaces are not open to the general public, or charge admission, or many other reasons. These are good conversations to have, especially if your remote, historic site is suddenly swarmed by gamers and only has one port-a-loo. Most people did not give up on reasonable behavior because Pikachu came to life on their phone.
EXPECTATIONS This Pokemon Go craze is seeming to be a litmus test for literally exposing the acidity in a space. I don't think it's something people do intentionally. I don't think most people go out of their way to be mean. Except for twitter.
But if you expect that young people will grow up visiting museums, if you expect that they will turn college aged and suddenly develop a love for science and history, throwing money at you into their golden years, I have a shock for you.
CONCLUSION Did you make it this far? Wow. I'm impressed. You get 500 combat points just for being here! AR isn't anything new, but Pokemon Go is the first app to nail all the technology elements together for the first time. Branding doesn't hurt either, but I digress. The game can be played with your friends, all you need is a smartphone and a camera, and, unlike twitter, you can't be mean.
If you make a museum the most welcoming, fun place to be on any given day, I think, they will come.
I want to add how impressed I am with all the players on the Museum grounds. North Dakotans, you continue to amaze me. And if you're still not on board at your public space with Pokemon, I suggest you put this into your boom box.
"I'm wanna be the very best, like no was ever was..."