The following is a guest post by David Gibson, a Processing Technician in the Moving Image Section.
The Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation has welcomed hundreds of visitors from all corners of the globe since its opening more than nine years ago. This year alone we hosted the 10th Orphan Film Symposium and the 5th annual Mostly Lost film identification workshop, both of which brought dozens of researchers, scholars and enthusiasts to our facility in order to celebrate and discover hidden treasures of moving image and recorded sound history. In recent weeks, however, we have noticed that we are playing host to an entirely different kind of visitor—Pocket Monsters, or Pokemon as they are better known, have invaded the Packard Campus since we find ourselves a Poke Stop in the extremely popular Pokemon Go app.
For the few remaining souls who don’t know, Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game which uses geospatial data and a smart phone’s camera to allow users to find and capture Pokemon in real life locations. The game has proved a huge success for the Nintendo Company and is evidence that Pokemon are still successful in captivating young and old alike nearly 20 years after their creation by Satoshi Tajiri, a Japanese game designer,. Anyone who uses the app and who attends our weekly film screenings may now be lucky enough to capture a Zubat hovering around the entrance of Packard Campus or a Kingler in the lobby in front of our theater.
However, this is not the first time we have encountered Pokemon here at the Packard Campus. We are fortunate enough to have 35mm prints of several of the Pokemon movies, a CD copy of the original cast album from the Pokemon stage show, Pokemon Gotta Catch ‘Em Live!, and even source code excerpts and DVD gameplay examples for several of the Pokemon games created for the Nintendo DS console.
The Pokemon Go app was created using data from another popular augmented reality game called Ingress which was first released in 2012 and allowed players to gain points by checking in at culturally significant locations. As the Library of Congress continues to explore topics related to digital preservation it will be interesting to see what user interaction with these games can teach us from a sociocultural standpoint. For now, it’s just exciting to know that we have Pokemon lurking about the Packard Campus. Good luck to all out there who are using the app and remember…you gotta catch ‘em all!