Pokémon Go is a free, location-based augmented reality game developed for mobile devices. Players use the GPS on their mobile device to locate, capture, battle, and train virtual creatures (a.k.a. Pokémon). These creatures appear on screen making it seem they are in the same real-world location as the player. The game launched in July 2016.
Over the past month, I’ve become more and more familiar with the game…my sons (and husband) have been playing—or maybe obsessed with is the better term—for a few weeks. (There’s a lot of talk at the dinner table about levels, Poké Stops, and strategizing how to evolve or catch various creatures. If you’re wondering, they are on the blue team: Go, Team Mystic!)
My husband and sons aren’t alone in their Pokémon Go interest. According to Wikipedia, the game has reportedly been downloaded by more than 75 million people worldwide in the month since it launched! The game’s popularity made me wonder what we, as training professionals, can borrow from this phenomenon that has caught the interest of young, middle-aged, and older people across the United States.
I went directly to the source. I asked my sons. In their words, Pokémon Go is fun because:
- You walk around instead of just standing there.
- It doesn’t just catch a Pokémon for you; you have to take action.
- It’s a simple concept, but adds on more stuff as you go.
- It gives you a reason to talk to other people who you might otherwise not meet.
- You gotta catch ‘em all (see this video of the Pokémon theme song to understand)
What do their observations about Pokémon Go mean for eLearning?
- Keep it active. Just because you’re delivering content via a screen doesn’t mean you can’t encourage or entice learners to get up out of their seat and find information.
- Keep it collaborative. Don’t push content at your learners. They want to think, and use what they know to gain more knowledge.
- Keep it simple. Make the course format and design easy to use, start with ideas that are easy to understand, and once the learner has adjusted start to add more complexity and challenge to keep them interested.
- Keep it people-centric. Some of the best learning comes from dialogue and discussion with other learners. Provide participants with content that provokes conversation and provides them with a reason to talk to other people about what they’re learning.
- Keep it creative. Not every eLearning course will have a theme song that sticks in your head (like Pokémon’s You gotta catch ‘em all song) but there are other ways to engage learners with creative use of interactive elements that will keep what they learn top of mind.
The success of Pokémon Go is another illustration of how the power of gamification in the world of learning. Gamification increases user engagement, can influence behavior, and motivates participation. If an augmented reality game can inspire 75 million people to get active, there’s no telling what some amazing eLearning designers can do by applying the same principles to their content.
Liz Sheffield is a freelance writer with a background in training and development. She specializes in writing about everything related to the human side of business. You can contact her via LinkedIn or Twitter.