Guest Post by Rhonda Wise - My name is Rhonda Wise and I am currently working as a Seasonal Interpretive Park Ranger at Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park in Johnson City, TX. As an Interpretive Ranger, my job is not only to educate but to connect our visitors, on a personal level, to the cultural and natural resources associated to the Johnson Presidency. The National Park Service is embarking on its second century of service. I want to make sure that I am prepared to represent the agency while adapting to meet the needs of our future visitors in a way that is relevant to them.

Pok'ewhat?!? Social media is swamped with the reports and posts, both good and bad, about the new Pok’emon Go mobile app and game. The mobile app takes gamers to historical sites and markers in a quest to ‘catch’ the Pok’emon creatures. The National Park Service is embracing it, with our current director producing a video welcoming Trainers, as the gamers are called, to the parks. With his endorsement, I added his video to our facebook page and welcomed trainers to Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park (but inside I am cringing).

Is this how we get millennials into and experiencing the parks? I read an article today that made a statement that took my attention. ”Pok’emon Go managed to accomplish something that museums, historic sites and others have struggled with for years: Getting a generation of nerds into the world to discover it, and its stories, anew.”

The positive... Pok'mon Go Live article

And the negative... Holocaust Museum

I will be anxiously watching as this plays out. Will we find new connections with this Pok’emon generation or will parks be a nondescript backdrop for the game? Is this or can this be used as a digital educational tool? Thoughts?

My screenshot taken yesterday between the LBJ Boyhood Home and the visitor center. It's everywhere!
(Stay tuned. Rhonda is working on a project for the Educational Technology course I teach. I'll post when it's complete and direct traffic to more of her engaging posts like this.)


  1. While I can appreciate the comradery that can build through adventures such as this, I personally find the game a little outlandish. I also think that those involved will be so engrossed in the game, possibly missing out on enjoying the world around them and most likely unaware of how their focus on the game can be distracting to others who are there to enjoy the environment.

  2. I could not disagree more with the above comment on this great blog post. I'm a chief of interpretation at a large urban national park, and I have personally witnessed and interacted with literally hundreds of Pokemon players over the last week. Every single one of them was as engaged with their surroundings and with the parks resources as they were with the game itself. They were exploring, learning, interacting, and CONNECTING. So many people of my generation and above condemn technology (especially video games) as the enemy of engagement and connection with the "real world." This game has taken all those assumptions and revealed them to be exactly that: assumptions of those who have not taken the time to understand or observe what is really going on.

    Are there places where playing the game is not appropriate? Absolutely! But that falls on us, as park managers, interpreters, guides, educators, to welcome and educate this NEW audience to our parks, museums, refuges, etc, about not only the where, but also the why.

    If we are so quick to cast judgement on something literally MILLIONS of people love, calling it "outlandish," we are simultaneously casting judgement on those that play it. And that is a very slippery slope that can quickly lead to an unwelcoming atmosphere of derision, mockery, and humiliation. And as a member of the geek/nerd community my entire life, these are atmospheres I am very familiar with and feel have absolutely no place in our public lands. If we want to turn off this new audience permanently to our public lands, and ensure that they never want to value them, that is the surest way to do it.