Since Pokemon Go released a couple of weeks ago, the game has become a social phenomenon with a huge effect on the way young people live their lives. With increased journeys outside, altered routes around towns and numerous impromptu social gatherings, it’s impossible to deny people are working their lives around potential Pokemon Go encounters
Still, I wonder if there’s at least a few bigger ways that life could change in a post-Pokemon Go world.
Increased Youth Voter Turnout
Pokemon Go encourages visiting Pokestops to claim free additional items. As Pokestops are usually local communal locations, many of these community locations overlap with voter stations during UK and USA elections.
The additional lure of attending a Pokestop to claim more items might be enough to encourage an apathetic youth voter out of the house and to the polls on poling day. As 65% of young registered voters took part in the UK’s EU referendum, versus 90% of over-65s, this could cause a shift toward higher youth voter turn out which could affect election results.
It doesn’t take a huge amount to get an apathetic voter to the polls, and I do have to wonder if the EU Referendum result would have been different in a post Pokemon Go world. Considering the age bias and the close nature of the results, it’s not ridiculous to think things might have turned out differently if you could’ve got a few extra pokeballs by taking part.
Increased Footfall for Select Businesses
While we have already seen businesses located near Pokestops taking advantage of using Lures to bring customers near enough to market to, particularly businesses selling phones or power banks, but the obvious next step is integrated marketing moves to alter youth spending habits.
T-mobile has a scheme offering Go players free data usage, and there is already an upcoming McDonald’s partnership, where selection Japanese locations will be made sponsored gyms, and I suspect other such deals will not be far behind. A multinational brand pays Niantic to increase item or Pokemon spawn rates at their locations, and there’s every chance of that being the tipping point in a decision between two diner locations.
If you’re trying to decide between KFC and McDonald’s for dinner, and the latter gives more Ultra Balls or a better rate of Eevee spawns, it’s going to be very tempting to make dinner choices based on that.
Captive Audience Marketing
Earlier this week, I took a walk to my local high street because I saw a lure on a Pokestop. I took a seat at a bench and was quickly greeted by a pair of Jehova’s Witnesses. They mentioned Pokemon Go before trying to engage me in discussion of their particular religious beliefs.
This was an active example of people with a message to spread encouraging people to a location that they would then be reluctant to move on from, in an attempt to cultivate a captive audience for their message.
The ability to draw an audience to an area and ensure they don’t go and sit elsewhere is an invaluable tool for those looking to spread their cause, be it Jehova’s Witnesses or a charity seeking donations.
So, what do you think? If Pokemon Go maintains its popularity do you see it having an effect on wider societal behavior? Are these ideas a stretch? Will changes to behavior stick beyond the short-term? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.