Oh no…it´s a monster: learnings from Pokémon Go

August 15, 2016 Sascha Grosskopf


These days, it’s hard not to hear about the latest viral trend. It’s generating more traffic than Twitter and raking in millions in revenue each day. Of course, I’m talking about the pocket monster – the one that turns people into zombies on the street: Pokémon Go.


Hundreds of blogs are talking about the value beyond the game itself, such as how shops can get more traffic using the app, and how to use games and gamified stories, or even augmented reality, for corporate learning.


For those unfamiliar with the game, Pokémon are fictional creatures and the people catching and training them are known as trainers. The app uses a technology called augmented reality, which essentially blends digital images with an individual user’s real-world surroundings using a device’s camera. This means Pokémon Go players can catch Pokémon go in their real-life surroundings, all the while winning medals and badges as they progress. The Pokémon even have different traits, much like learners in real life. Sound familiar?


I can see and hear a chorus of HR leaders saying, “it’s just a trend,” or “it won’t last long.” However, these leaders are bound to have a rude awakening when the app is still popular in a few months’ time – not dissimilar to when Chancellor Merkel discovered the ‘virgin territory of the internet’, only to find out how behind she was.


While HR leaders may argue the app is for children and not for workers, or imply workers aren’t interested, the statistics say otherwise. More than 40 per cent of the adults who downloaded Pokémon Go are older than 25-years-old, and around one in three adult users are women.  These are the findings from StartApp, a company tracking 600 million users over the age of 18 for downloads and social use.


So, it’s not just kids. Users of every age group are well versed in using mobile phones, and many understand augmented reality and love gamified entertainment. What else can we learn from Pokémon?  


Monster Analysis


There are hundreds of different kinds of Pokémon, but each trainer can only teach six of them at a time, so it’s up to you to pick the best team for accomplishing your goals.


In the real world, the right trainer needs the best and most relevant training for the best learner. Don’t waste valuable time and resources. Creating role-based learning experiences is a good way to succeed in this.


Let the monsters do it


To train up the skills of your first six Pokémon, you need to let them practice as much as you can. Much like in reality, learning by doing is the best option – pull learning rather than push.


Social monsters


While Pokémon battles are typically one-on-one, there’s an option to make your six Pokémon tag-team with one another. If one Pokémon is struggling, another can replace it, and by working together they can share the result and experience.


Monster skills


Even after a long time, each of your Pokémon can only recall four skills at a time. When you add a new skill, you need to compromise and decide which skill stays or goes. You need to be tactical in your decision making about the skills required in the future.


Train the trainer


In the Pokémon world you can test your skills against gym leaders recognised as the best in a given area. If you defeat them, you’ll get a badge showing your victory. Should you collect all badges, you’ll become one of the best trainers in the world – the Elite Four.


Aren’t badges, leader boards and points a great motivator to engage learners and trainers alike? Let learners become the trainer and share their knowledge.


We all love to be entertained and play games from time to time, and we have to understand that there are more options now than just traditional learning, collaboration and personal development. Make work fun!


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