Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Come for the Pokemon, stay for the cool Roman archaeology

Disclaimer: I was a huge Pokemon fan in the late 90s and played it religiously on my Gameboy. So I was always going to love Pokemon Go just from a nostalgia perspective. So I've been a bit surprised at all the moaning about it on social media - seriously, why be all grumpy about a free game that gets people outside and walking about? It's not like we haven't all been playing odd games on our phones for years. Candy Crush anyone? I think Pokemon Go is a brilliant idea, you literally have to leave the house and get some exercise to play it. We all lament so much that 'kids these days' spend all day sat down playing computer games instead of going outside, what could be better than combining the two? Something I did not expect was that I would learn so much playing it. Whereas the original game was set in a fantasy world, this one is set in the real world. The whole thing is based on a location based tourist app, that gives you little snippets of information on various cultural and heritage attractions as you walk around an area. Each of the little stops that you walk to on the Pokemon map is connected to a building, memorial, or some other point of interest, and in order to collect your items from it, you have to read a little box that tells you about it. It's fantastic! I grew up in Wallsend, lived there for 18 years, and it is only through playing Pokemon Go for the past week that I have realized how much there is to see, that I just hadn't paid attention to before. All those memorials that were just part of the scenery - now I actually know what they are and what they represent. It turns out there's a Masonic Hall in Wallsend, who knew! And there's a Pokemon Go gym at Segedunum - surely encouraging people to visit this museum, which is otherwise slightly out of the way, is a good thing? Come for the Pokemon, stay for the cool Roman archaeology. It's possibly one of the best potential outreach ideas ever - can you imagine the audience you could reach if your excavation was turned into a Pokemon stop?

Pokemon in my office, Pokemon when I go for coffee. Meowth, that's right!

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