Using Pokémon GO To Teach Geography


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A wild Oddish appeared on my laptop as I was writing this blog.

On the off-chance you’ve been hibernating for the winter* and have missed the phenomenon that is taking the world by storm, Pokémon GO is currently the biggest thing since sliced bread.

If you haven’t yet heard of it, or you have but haven’t yet played it, you basically walk around looking for Pokémon and attempting to catch them. After all, you gotta catch ’em all. The game uses augmented reality (AR), a form of technology that combines digital graphics with the real-world. Essentially, it augments your reality. But, you’re probably thinking: what possible value could this bring to the ancient and noble field of Geography?

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The maps are real, giving the game a more authentic feel.
  1. Mapping: This game uses real maps, borrowing Google Maps as the base. It doesn’t include any labels, so it’s a relatively clean screen to use. Students will become well-acquainted with maps by using this game, as they are required to determine distances and directions in order to find and catch the Pokémon.
  2. Spatial dimension: Much like mapping above, students will become more aware of their surroundings and what is actually around them. One element of the game is to visit PokéStops in order to obtain rewards needed to continue in the game (unless you want to pay for the privilege). PokéStops can be found mainly at notable landmarks and monuments, meaning that students are required to connect with their local community and history.
  3. Biological diversity: Just like in real life, certain Pokémon can only be found in certain ecosystems. Grass Pokémon can only be found in grassy areas, water Pokémon can only be found around waterways, and night Pokémon can only be found at night. This provides students with a better understanding of how animals interact in the environment and how the ecological dimension works.
  4. **BONUS** Physical exercise: This is not Geography related, however, an added bonus of this game is that it requires you to move. You need to walk around to find Pokémon. How many computer games require you to get some fresh air in order to play?

*Applicable to the Southern Hemisphere only.

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