This weekend (July 22/23) Chester will be invaded by virtual monsters that players of global craze Pokémon GO can capture during a world exclusive event.
Historic sites have been turned into 120 PokéStops that players can interact with on their smartphones as part of a heritage weekend with a difference.
Niantic Labs, the developer and publisher of the global games phenomenon Pokémon GO, The Pokémon Company International and Chester-based Big Heritage have partnered to ‘curate’ historical locations throughout the ancient city of Chester.
The aim is to encourage community engagement and education.
Visitors to the city will be able to take part in a number of fun trail activities, with in-game and real-world surprises for Pokémon GO players.
The fun and games coincide with the annual Chester Heritage Festival which will also include reenactments and banner making at Chester Castle, which will be open to the public for the first time in 20 years. There will be other happenings at the amphitheatre, on the Rows, Grosvenor Museum and in Town Hall Square.
This weekend will also see Chester play host to Pokémon GO trainers from around the world. And Big Heritage will be working with schools across the Cheshire and Merseyside regions as part of an initiative to encourage young people to explore and learn about their local area by playing Pokémon GO together.
Niantic CEO and founder John Hanke said: “I am incredibly excited about this partnership linking local history and Pokémon GO. We love the idea of using mobile games as a motivation for families to play outside together and perhaps to learn something interesting while they are at it!”
Big Heritage founder Dean Paton said “We are so excited about working with Niantic Labs, who are true innovators in their field, and as passionate as we are about getting people exploring and learning about the world around them. It’s a genuine coup for Chester to be the ‘test bed’ for some amazing new ideas, and we hope we can use the game based on the iconic and beloved Pokemon brand as a tool for helping more people get excited about the past.”
Big Heritage is an award-winning heritage social enterprise engaging museums, schools and communities with the past. Among its successes are the Sick to Death medical museum on Chester’s walls which was launched through the eponymous Plague Doctor character in a viral digital marketing campaign.
■ Get involved – use the hashtag #PokemonGO and let organisers know if you are planning to join the festival by ‘attending’ the event on the Big Heritage Facebook page.