Pokemon GeOgraphy

A Pokemon Go(oogle Doc)

“There are portals in Antarctica and the North Pole, and most points in between”


P.1-2: Introduction

P.2-3: Good articles on augmented reality

P.3-4: Articles on Mapping

P.4-5: Articles on things people have done

P.5-7: Curriculum connections /

P.7: National Parks / Mapping

P.7-8: Economic Benefits

P.8-9: Other stories from teachers

P.10-12: Lesson resources

P.13-14: Pokemon Cartoons

P.15-16: A Primary perspective

P.17: Acknowledgements        

P.17: How to stop playing Pokemon Go


During the summer break 2016, a new ‘cultural phenomenon’ - or is it a fad? - emerged. An app which can be put onto Smartphones and allows the user to hunt for Pokemon.

It immediately captured the attention of millions, and was downloaded more times than any other app within a few weeks, and led to many people wandering city centres, trying to catch virtual creatures.

The idea of Augmented reality is something that was around some years ago - I’m reminded of BBC Jam and some of the content that was created for that. The game uses GPS and mapping capabilities in mobile phones to let players roam the real world to find Pokéstops stocked with supplies and hunt cartoon character monsters to capture and train for battles.

The App was developed by Niantic in association with Nintendo. Niantic was also responsible for the Keyhole software, which eventually became Google Earth: hence this Mashable article: http://mashable.com/2016/07/10/john-hanke-pokemon-go/

The article also describes some of the links between the positioning of elements in the game and geography.

Which Pokémon appear where

Deciding which Pokémon would appear where required a whole extra set of mapping data. Geographic markers in the map created for Pokémon Go help determine Pokémon habitat. "We assign values based on whether there is a water body in an area — so a stream, a river, a pond — whether areas are designated as zoos or parks, or other kinds of mapping designations," Hanke said. That means, for the most part, water-type Pokémon like Magikarp and Squirtles should appear near water. Although he could not disclose its origins, another data set used in the game is drawn from the geographic classification of an area based on climate, vegetation and soil or rock type. "That gets into more [geographic information system]-type of data ... and we utilise that to map Pokémon species to appropriate habitats," he explained.

This has more scope for further exploration I think

Although naming your child after a Pokemon might be taking it a little too far:


Good articles on Augmented Reality

http://donaldclarkplanb.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/10-ways-pokemon-go-portends-ar-in.html - I like how this connects the idea to some learning strategies e.g the students tutoring others in how the app works.

How Niantic, the creators are part of a trend for the virtual world impinging on the real world: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/25/pokemon-go-silicon-valley-reality 

Which ends with this paragraph:

The problem is not technology or innovation, the problem is monopoly capitalism: the fact that all this power is concentrated in a few companies from Silicon Valley, who openly want to create a brave new world in which technology only serves profit. While we’re all busy playing Pokémon, the companies are following the game’s advice – “Gotta catch ‘em all”. Only, its us being captured in an inescapable web of technological consumerism.

Good articles on the relationship with Exploring and spending time outside

I like this mash-up of Pokemon Go and David Attenborough narration: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/07/25/david-attenborough-narrating-pokemon-go-is-hilarious/ 


This good article describes the value of harnessing the way that young people use their phones:


Also stories about keeping them away from sites such as the Hiroshima memorial and Auschwitz - the algorithm for placement perhaps needs to be tweaked?


Articles on mapping

PokemonGo uses electronic mapping (like ArcGIS online, or is it based on Google Maps?) and this provides a basemap on which there are other layers added. This could be used to help understand the principles of GIS.

Pokevision map: http://www.wired.co.uk/article/pokemon-go-map-rare-pokemon-sightings-and-gyms

16 million visitors to Pokevision map in a week: http://www.techinsider.io/pokevision-creator-on-pokemon-go-interview-2016-7 which uses ArcGIS mapping and social media feature which I’ve used previously

Pokemon’s Geography was developed from INGRESS, and the places that people suggested in that game, through clusters. Pokemon Go requires walkability, so there are more Pokemon in areas where there are pavements and public buildings. These places are also the result of “placemaking”.

The idea of place and ‘permission to explore’ is described here:


Do Pokemon prefer white neighbourhoods?


(Social inequality or down to algorithms?)

Will Pokemon Go really encourage people to go outside more?

It seems it might...

Helping users uncover hidden history: http://www.wcvb.com/news/pokemon-go-players-stumble-on-hidden-history/40867018

"It gets you to learn about your surroundings," said 59-year-old Cheryl DiMarzio, who on the advice of her daughter ventured into an urban park to capture an owl-like Pidgey and some purple rodent Rattatas. "Different landmarks, the statues and historical places."


“To sum up, what Pokémon Go actually does, in addition to being a highly addictive game, is get people interested in maps and spatial data. This kind of game wouldn’t be possible without up-to-date and highly available public maps. With services like Uber and Tripadvisor, using real-time map data has become a part of our everyday lives without us even realizing it. Now GIS and maps are invading our games as well!”

Good articles on some of the crazier things that people did in order to find Pokemon, including getting stuck down a mine, and trespassing on high speed rail lines http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-36892627 

Bosnia minefields: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/pokemon-go-players-in-bosnia-warned-to-watch-out-for-minefields-a7145691.html 

White House briefings were also interrupted, and some music concerts as well.

Abandoned mineshafts - how did they get a signal?


Holocaust museum: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jul/13/pokemon-go-us-holocaust-museum-asks-players-to-stay-away - also seen a similar story about the Cenotaph in London

People may also be at risk by climbing Ben Nevis to reach the Pokemon that you can find at the summit: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3705258/Just-watch-going-Pokemon-puts-colony-monsters-BEN-NEVIS-s-sure-spark-boom-number-climbers-accidents-Britain-s-highest-mountain.html (sorry, Daily Mail)

Fukushima Exclusion Zone

Would you risk exposure to radiation to catch a Pokemon - people apparently are: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jul/26/pokemon-go-players-fukushima-disaster-zone-nuclear 

Teenagers were arrested for crossing the US - Canada border: http://www.ctvnews.ca/world/canadian-teens-detained-for-crossing-u-s-border-while-playing-pokemon-go-1.2999632

Also some teenagers having to be rescued by a lifeboat after going into the sea: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-36912661

Or trespass on military sites

Or nearly get caught by the incoming tide at Weston-Super-Mare


Being used by US police as a way of luring criminals in a new version of the honey trap: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jul/29/pokemon-go-us-virginia-police-criminals-stations?CMP=twt_gu

A warning:

Curriculum connections

Urban Spaces


Playing Pokemon as a modern day flaneur (psychogeography)

Also the idea of gaming urban spaces: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/jul/22/urban-gamification-pokemon-go-transform-public-spaces?CMP=share_btn_tw


Rhodes, in Sydney - locals complaining about the disturbance caused by people congregating as there are three Pokestops in the area: http://www.cnet.com/news/pokemon-go-perfect-storm-turns-tiny-park-into-suburban-nightmare/

Urban spaces and patterns: http://streets.mn/2016/07/20/the-surprising-urban-geography-of-pokemon-go/?utm_content=buffera19fe&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

You see them chasing digital dreams, shadows of their childhood. Young people ambling slowly with faces pressed to their phones, clumps plotting on benches. It’s Pokemon Go, the new game! Half digital, half material, and a sign of things to come.

This is an excellent article with lots of geography including the information that the speed limit is around 10mph for moving, so there needs to be some slow method of travel….

Will it help young people explore their neighbourhoods and get to find out more about them?


This would be an interesting thing to research.

Quietly helping people fall in love with their cities?


Links to Geography fieldwork


And Geography conference papers to come:


Pokemon has “redrawn the map of what people find important in the world”.


The criteria for Pokéstops emphasized locations with "a cool story, a place in history, or educational value" and "unique architecture."

It is also apparently ‘redrawing the geography of cities’: http://fusion.net/story/328205/pokemon-go-pokestops-ingress-portals/ 

Link to planning


Effect on geographical research

Thanks to James Boxall for sending me this story which has Pokemon Go disrupting some geography research:


National Parks

Students could perhaps design new geography-based Pokemon or site-specific examples.

Also do some Skitch screenshots of the App and then use that to add in some real world features.

Economic benefits

The phrase Pokemonomics has appeared to show how some businesses have used the app to attract lots of new customers, by allowing them to be Pokestops, and paying for that privilege.


Special buses are heading for Sokcho in South Korea


People are selling their accounts: a modern version of ‘gold farming’:


A Manchester Taxi firm has allocated some of its cabs to taking people on Pokemon tours: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/36922942/manchester-taxi-firm-will-drive-you-around-the-city-to-catch-pokemon 

Other stories from teachers

Boris Berlijn: first thoughts here


Mr. M. Cimino


Lesson Resources

Activity for teaching mapskills around the school site

Or Grid References

With this blog post too:


Which has a link to an editable version of the document above…

Resource updated now to include Battleships idea...

Adding to Google Maps: http://www.flywithtech.com/?_escaped_fragment_=Pokemon-Go-Geography/zqpon/578d5e860cf27c01035823a2 

Some ideas on the TeachingIdeas website for lots of subjects including Geography: http://www.teachingideas.co.uk/computing/ways-to-use-pokemon-go-in-the-classroom


From @aamihaf on Twitter

Also check out some ideas for using it without the app:


BrainPop has added a series of links - they’re always quick off the mark with ideas: http://www.brainpop.co.uk/blog/2016/07/learning-ideas-using-pokemon-go-in-and-out-of-the-classroom/

Lessons for the science classroom: http://www.fizzicseducation.com.au/Blog/x_post/Pokemon-go---lesson-ideas-for-the-science-classroom-00104.html#.V4sgx3gc9os.twitter

For critical learning


For PE teachers:


An interesting PokemonGo syllabus which has been developed by a large number of people.

There are plenty of links here to suitable documents relating to gamification and playful learning.


The Royal Geographical Society is a Pokestop


@Christuckeredu has started a Padlet for ideas:



(which now includes reference to this document)

Not everyone is convinced about using Pokemon Go in education, but I think there is some value here in exploring the nature of the app, and how it is changing how some people view their surroundings and engage with it.

A useful article on what educational technology could learn from the success of Pokemon Go


Perhaps it should be banned: http://heatst.com/tech/5-reasons-why-pokemon-go-must-be-stopped/

Some aren’t happy with using it in subjects such as RE...

Or has it already peaked?

Source: http://motherboard.vice.com/read/peak-pokemon-go?

And finally….

Pokemon Cartoons


An excellent one from Stephen Collins in the Guardian


An excellent cartoon from the Turkish Milkrop website via one of my new Turkish colleagues Canan



And a reminder for all adult players


A true story…


My son went into a second hand bookshop in a coastal village in Norfolk earlier this week. He bought a few books and was handed back 50p of the money he’d paid as ‘a discount, because you’re not playing Pokemon Go’...

A Primary Perspective

Steve Rawlinson, the GA President asked a few questions regarding the app this week:

Is this game an opportunity to get children outside, engaged with geography and its technological applications? Or is it just a gimmick that carries inherent dangers and

therefore not to be encouraged?

Paula Owens provided some very interesting immediate thoughts, which were a little off the top of her head, but had some excellent ideas in there:

Some immediate thoughts come to mind …  yes it’s great it’s getting people out of doors exploring and being active instead of just existing in a virtual reality but also let’s remember that we’re being played by the big companies who want to commodify virtual as well as real realities even more than they already are. So any way that captures the trend and the enthusiasm it has generated with children but also encourages them to add some individuality and independence of operation would be really great. I was intrigued by the thought that the characters were mapped against likely habitats and that the hiding places were more likely to be in places people went (place–making) and I thought these two ideas alone could be usefully exploited in the classroom with primary.


I like the idea of children developing their own characters and with preferences of types of environment they like to inhabit (could be small or large scale, local or global here depending on the type of character and exploration planned) and then placing them on grid references in appropriate places. Young children could also actually ‘hide’ their characters in the school grounds for example – some like shade, some activity areas, some like to be near ponds, some like traffic etc etc) and then having fun doing simple treasure maps to go find them and see if you can get the whole team. This doesn’t require anything complex for early years. But it does involve outdoor exploration, use of maps and understanding of different habitats and geographical features.


From this, using different characters for different environmental aspects, further exploration could involve route making, shelter creation from local materials (I’m thinking small characters here) etc

Lovely ideas here from Paula!


Document created by Alan Parkinson

Last updated 11.08.16

People contributing content to this document:

Alan Parkinson

Fiona Old



James Boxall

Angus Willson

Joe Dale


Steve Rawlinson

Paula Owens

Will be writing an article on PokemonGo and similar technology for a GA Journal to be published in 2017/18

And how to stop playing via The Guardian: