My girlfriend and I recently attended an art show held next to the Hollyhock House, a designated landmark of Los Angeles because it sits on a hill with a panoramic view of the city, and the house itself was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The place was packed, which seemed great at first. But then we gradually realized most of the people there weren't there to see the art, or look at the view, or take in the Mayan-influenced building by America's greatest architect.
Most people were there only to catch goddamn Pokémon.
Which isn't such a bad thing in itself (I was playing too), but what really bothered me is how little attention or interest the players paid to this great landmark. Eyes stuck on their phones, scarce looking up (and then, only to tell friends which Pokémon they just found). On a cultural and moral level, this example is somewhere in the middle on the annoyance spectrum, with the very, very worst example probably being people going to Auschwitz to catch Pokémon.
Rather than just rant, however, I thought there must be ways to encourage GO players to look up from their phones once in awhile and actually take in their surroundings. And then it hit me:
Award extra game content for players who complete challenges which require them to engage with and observe the real world.
So for instance, take this famed Berkeley Buddhist temple, which is a Pokéstop. Why not add a multiple choice panel to the Pokéstop UI which challenges players to answer questions which require them to actually look up, and around? How many pillars does the temple have? What side of the temple has a statue of Buddha? What happens at the temple on Sunday morning? (Spoiler: The monks serve Thai food brunch for anyone who comes by and donates.) Answer correctly, and get extra balls and other power-ups.
Of course a system like this wouldn't work everywhere -- we wouldn't want to literally trivialize a place like Auschwitz. And it would be pretty quickly gamed, with hardcore players memorizing and sharing answers in key locations. But even that would require exploration. And since Pokémon GO's playing field is literally the entire world, new questions about new places would appear every day. And for people creating new Pokéstops at places they own (stores and restaurants and such), there'd be a new way of generating interest and awareness in their location and offerings.
I'm not a hardcore GO player, so maybe there's something I'm missing -- are there drawbacks to a feature like this?
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