My love of video games is as strong as my love of historic preservation, so when I’m seeing where they converge I take note. One thing that I’m loving right now is how the Pokémon Go game is getting people out and exploring their communities. Pokémon Go’s goal is for players (trainers) to explore their real world surroundings as they catch creatures (Pokémon) they encounter. One feature of the app are PokéStops, which are places along the way where players can get supplies. PokéStops are usually located at historic sites, parks, and local landmarks.
“Main Street communities are beginning to take full advantage of the Pokémon Go app. They are using it as a way to get their local citizens out and about downtown! I think PokéStops can be used in these activities not only for kids, but it can be fun for adults who may want to learn more about artists, murals, or historic sites within an area.” says Katherina Paliwoda, program assistant for Florida Main Street. “Also, since Main Street is a great place for heritage tourists, PokéStops have been great with bringing tourists downtown to experience their local history, restaurant, and retail.”
Pokémon Go had a bit of criticism recently due to its use in inappropriate places such as the Holocaust Museum, but generally, many sites and establishments have been tolerant of, if not outright embracing, visitors that have discovered them as a result. As a preservationist, I’m all for people learning about their local neighborhoods and historic sites! So, all of you Pokémon trainers out there trying to be their very best, enjoy finding out more about your community and historic sites as you play!
Stay alert. Stay safe. I’m my sister’s designated Pokémon trainer while she’s driving. And remember, be respectful and mindful while trying to get that super rare. Gotta catch ’em all!