Explore your community with Pokémon Go

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For a game that has been around for over two decades, the new Pokémon Go app has had a huge impact on modern culture in the past month.

Pokemon3-webBrief game overview: Pokémon Go is an augmented reality mobile game where players act as Pokémon trainers, capturing creatures in the wild, collecting in-game supplies from virtual PokéStops, and then training their creatures at Gyms.

Pokemon2-webHere at UBC, there are hundreds of PokéStops and dozens of Gyms across campus, so there has been a marked increase of people of all ages wandering around with their phones out since this game has launched. Despite being a mobile app, Pokémon Go can open the door for natural exploration in the physical world.

Pokémon Go: Do’s

The main tenet of Pokémon Go is the idea that players have to “catch ‘em all” – or complete the index of available Pokémon characters. As you collect new creatures, try and think about the real-world counterpart and where you might find them in your neighbourhood. This will be easy for some characters, such as Spearow (in a tree!), Krabby (at the beach!), and Meowth (on your couch!). But for others, including the infamous Pikachu, it might require some more creative thinking!

One of the “go” aspects of the game is that players can get new creatures by hatching eggs. These eggs hatch after an incubation period, which is measured by distances walked. Lots of people are exploring new areas of their neighbourhoods that they have never been in before as they incubate their eggs. Look for the real-world counterparts of the Pokémon characters to view familiar locations in a new way!

Pokémon Go: Don’ts

Similar to many guidelines for other outdoor activity, there are a few things to keep in mind as you play Pokémon Go: make sure someone knows where you’ll be and when you plan to return; dress properly for the weather, including sunscreen, a hat, a rain jacket, or an umbrella as necessary; and be aware of your surroundings and don’t trespass on private property. And if you’re on the hunt for real-world creatures along with the virtual ones, be mindful of your impact on natural habitats.

Ecosystems in Play

UBC geneticist and science educator David Ng created the card game Phylo to connect the younger generation to the cooler aspects of biodiversity! Modelled after the original Pokémon game, the premise of Phylo is collecting, trading, and playing with cards based on real-life organisms. Opening on September 17, 2016, Ecosystems in Play: Exploring Biodiversity Through Gaming is the next feature exhibition to open at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum. This exhibition lets you step inside the Phylo game and see how life within an ecosystem is connected, and how some environmental events can have damaging effects on life.