Pokémon Go is a game for mobile devices, in which players hunt for ‘pocket-monsters’ living in the world around them. The Pokémon can be developed over time and battled against each other, but the main aim is the race to collect at least one of each type (gotta catch 'em all).
What makes this game different to many others is the way that it’s tied to the physical world via GPS. You can only move around the game if you move in real life, so couch potatoes across the land have been encouraged to get themselves out and explore their local area, often meeting and engaging with other players they run into along the way.
In order to stock up on items such as pokéballs (used to catch Pokémon), players must visit particular landmarks that have been designated as pokéstops, and battles can only be fought at gyms. The grounds at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage are home to four pokéstops and one gym, so it seemed like the ideal venue to host an event like this, offering a safe place for families to come and explore the gardens and meet other like-minded people as they played their new favourite game.
During the event, we triggered a series of lures to draw the Pokémon into the gardens and awarded badges to successful trainers who caught something on site. We kept track of sightings on a largescale map of the grounds and visitors really enjoyed adding their latest conquests to the board throughout the day.
Younger visitors made Pokémon masks and older players had a go at some pretty tricky Pokémon origami. Energy levels were topped up courtesy of the pokécakes available from the café and anyone who shared their photos on social media was entered into a prize draw to win a set of Manga Shakespeare books.
The atmosphere on the day was fantastic, with a real range of ages taking part with great enthusiasm. Having a shared purpose really promotes a sense of community amongst players and it was great to see barriers coming down as visitors interacted with each other, comparing captures and engaging in friendly competition at the gym.
We had some lovely feedback from visitors, many of whom said it was a great idea to encourage more young people to visit the site. One highlight was a conversation with a mother who said her son was autistic and found it difficult to leave the house and engage with children of his own age. Running the Pokémon event at Anne Hathaway's, she told us, meant that she was able to enjoy the cultural side of the site whilst her son had the confidence to talk to other children knowing that they already had a shared passion.
This was an excellent opportunity for us to reach out to an audience that might not have been tempted to visit the Cottage previously. Since our passes are valid for 12 months, we’ll hope to see many of our Pokémon playing friends returning often to enjoy other events during the year. Who knows, we may even throw another Pokémon party too – so keep an eye out for details!