The Potential of Pokémon Go

Vol. 15 No. 1

advancement eletter Vol15 No1 pokemon

In the last issue of The Source for Private School News, we discussed the impact that the new mobile game Pokémon Go may have on the private-independent school community. The Admission Office, in particular, could leverage the gaming sensation to great benefit during its recruitment sessions this fall.

A Quick Recap

For those who missed our explanation of the game in our first article:

Pokémon Go is an “augmented reality,” free-to-play mobile app game released in honor of the Pokémon franchise’s 20th anniversary, allowing players to catch “pocket monsters”—Pokémon—on a Google Maps-esque interface.

Players log into their Google-based account, using the phone’s GPS system to access a map of the local area and display Pokémon that are in the immediate area. From there, players must walk around to locate and capture these Pokémon. As of September 2016, 151 Pokémon are available for collection.

While the basic Pokémon Go experience revolves around catching Pokémon, the game has other features that encourage movement and exploration in the area. Players can visit local area landmarks that serve as “PokéStops” on the game map to obtain new supplies, use their already-captured creatures to battle for control of “Pokémon Gyms,” and walk around to hatch “eggs” that will potentially add rare Pokémon to their growing collections.

As we enter the school year, the game shows few signs of slowing down. Over 21 million people play Pokémon Go daily, spending $5.7 million on in-app purchases for a total of $200 million earned as of August 10 (1). And it’s not just bored gamers with money to spare playing the game. According to SurveyMonkey Intelligence, 22% of Pokémon Go players are 13-17 years old (and 63% of players are female) (2).

Using Pokémon Go for Admission Purposes

We can see at least two great ways in which Pokémon Go could be used—on tours and for social media content.

Lure Tours to Campus

Families visit your campus to inspect how well your school could serve their children, but there’s nothing wrong with a bit of playful promotion to “lure” the interest of those students.

As we mentioned before, one of the main ways Pokémon Go players participate in the game is to capture Pokémon, which can be found around PokéStops—particularly when “lures” are inserted into a PokéStop slot. These in-game items last for thirty minutes and attract more and different creatures than would normally be found in the area. Anyone can activate a lure and make the boost available to any passing player.

So, you could make your campus a literal attraction to players by placing lures at PokéStops around your school’s campus. That’s what the Denver Zoo did to attract patrons (and “invasive” Pokémon) during a special weekend event in July. Guests playing Pokémon Go received special treatment, admission rates, and lures that staff put into zoo PokéStops in the afternoon.

Follow Denver Zoo’s example and schedule a special “lure” tour event. This could serve the dual purpose of exciting previously scheduled visiting students, while possibly attracting school-aged players who can see the active lures on your campus and be curious about the potential creatures.

Share the Adventure Online

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One of Pokémon Go’s special features is its augmented reality: Using the phone’s camera to place the game’s monsters into the “real world.” Players can take pictures of the Pokémon superimposed on their surroundings—and then share them on various social networks.

For example, the Towson University tour groups shared some unexpected special love when visitors to campus shared the Pokemon’s images online, tagging the school in the photo posts.

You could encourage students to take photos of their adventures in the mobile game while on tour and tag the school, showing the “discoveries” with others and giving your school some online love.

How else might Pokémon Go be leveraged for your school? We’d love to hear about your plans, either here in the comment section or on social media using #ISMINC.

Additional ISM resources:
The Source for Private School News Vol. 15 No. 7 A Pokémon Go Primer for Private Schools
The Source for Trustees Vol. 13 No. 10 Classroom Apps, Technology, and Privacy Concerns
The Source for Private School News Vol. 15 No. 2 Blended Learning in Private Schools: An Interview with Mark Engstrom

Additional ISM resources for Gold members:
I&P Vol. 35 No. 3 The 21st Century School: Curriculum and Technology
Vol. 40 No. 16 The Student-Centered Department


  1. According to Money Nation's "Pokemon GO Money: A Game Worth $29 Billion"
  2. According to Forbes's "More Women Than Men Are Playing 'Pokemon GO'—By a Lot"
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