How will Pokemon Go affect conventions
Since it's recent release Pokémon Go has been taking the world by storm. The app is installed on more phones than Tinder and has more daily active users than Twitter or Instagram. Pokémon Go has been changing up lives around the world, for better or for worse. And since the game and conventions share the same target audience it is no surprise that the two will affect each other.

At this past weekend's Anime Midwest the Pokémon Go frenzy was in full force. If I had to guess, about one third of the crowd had their phones out hunting Pokémon. After all this is the ideal setting for the game, since it is a mass gathering of fans. Plus the convention center and hotels contained several virtual Pokéstops and Gyms.

On the plus side, the game added a new social aspect to the convention. Seeing other people playing the game is an obvious conversation starter and players bonded over their Poké-collection and what team they represented. Speaking of teams, teamwork became an important aspect of the game. Players loved to share their findings if an uncommon Pokémon was near by. If one person shouts, "Pikachu", a swarm of players would gather to that spot and pull out their phones.

Lure modules were also in constant use at every one of this convention center's Pokéstops. When a player uses one of these modules a mass of Pokémon get lured to the particular spot. Since these modules affect everyone's game, players are also lured to these spots within the convention. If you had a booth near one of these virtual Pokéstops your likely to get an increase in foot traffic.

Pokemon GO

On the down side, Pokémon Go does take a lot of the attention off of con its self. Many fans are paying more attention to their phones at any given moment instead of their surroundings. This could lead to less sales by artists and vendors who already have to compete for you attention as it is. And I can easily picture people leaving, or even skipping, a panel in an attempt to fill their Pokédex.

Overall I feel Pokémon Go has added a new layer to conventions. The mass gatherings have become a little more social and a new activity has been brought to the table filling in the gaps while walking, resting, or waiting in a line. Convention planners and vendors may need to do some adapting as this new trend hits cons but it will be no different then when cosplay became a popular added layer of the convention appeal.

For those of you heading to SDCC this year you will have a chance to pick the brain of the Niantic Labs founder, John Hanke. He will be at the "Re-Imagining Reality: Bringing Games into the Real World with Ingress and Pokémon GO" panel Thursday afternoon at 5 PM in room Room 25ABC.
July 11 2016

posted by JoeyH