As The Pokeball Turns

TRAINER'S EYE #49 - "Growing Grassroot Communities" ft. Forte from PoGo Community Checkpoint

August 02, 2023 David Hernandez Season 1 Episode 51
TRAINER'S EYE #49 - "Growing Grassroot Communities" ft. Forte from PoGo Community Checkpoint
As The Pokeball Turns
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As The Pokeball Turns
TRAINER'S EYE #49 - "Growing Grassroot Communities" ft. Forte from PoGo Community Checkpoint
Aug 02, 2023 Season 1 Episode 51
David Hernandez

Send us a Text Message.

In this Pokemon interview, we are joined by Forte, a Pokemon GO Trainer from Peru, Indiana and founder of PoGO Community Checkpoint, who thrives on building Pokemon GO communities through collaboration and friendly competition.

Forte shares  valuable tips and suggestions for those looking to establish their own Pokémon GO communities. From organizing events and meetups to fostering a sense of camaraderie, he offers practical insights that can help aspiring Pokemon GO community builders bring their vision to life. Discover how the power of collaboration and competition can unite trainers and create a supportive and engaging Pokémon GO community in any area whether city or small town.

Trainer's Eye is a series where the stories are real and people still play this game. From PVP to Shiny Hunting, each person's Pokemon GO journey is unique and we dive into each journey here on As The Pokeball Turns!

Sources
Opening Song: "Forget You" by Alex_MakeMusic from Pixabay

Connect with Forte: Website | Discord

Support the Show.

Connect with David Hernandez: Linktree
E-mail Me: asthepokeballturnspodcast@gmail.com

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

In this Pokemon interview, we are joined by Forte, a Pokemon GO Trainer from Peru, Indiana and founder of PoGO Community Checkpoint, who thrives on building Pokemon GO communities through collaboration and friendly competition.

Forte shares  valuable tips and suggestions for those looking to establish their own Pokémon GO communities. From organizing events and meetups to fostering a sense of camaraderie, he offers practical insights that can help aspiring Pokemon GO community builders bring their vision to life. Discover how the power of collaboration and competition can unite trainers and create a supportive and engaging Pokémon GO community in any area whether city or small town.

Trainer's Eye is a series where the stories are real and people still play this game. From PVP to Shiny Hunting, each person's Pokemon GO journey is unique and we dive into each journey here on As The Pokeball Turns!

Sources
Opening Song: "Forget You" by Alex_MakeMusic from Pixabay

Connect with Forte: Website | Discord

Support the Show.

Connect with David Hernandez: Linktree
E-mail Me: asthepokeballturnspodcast@gmail.com

David Hernandez:

My name is David Hernandez, and you're listening to As the Pokeball Turns. Welcome to As the Pokeball Turns, where the stories are real and people still play this game. With Silph Road closing its doors, it left behind a huge hole to be filled in Pokemon Go. While yes, Project Zygarde is underway, determined to promote and grow the future of grassroots PvP. What about the other side of Silph? The community building, the connection that Silph Road was able to do for so long. You think of the Silph Map where local communities had a place where trainers could place their community for others to find. You think of the Traveler's Card that validated trainer's attendance at events or completing raid challenges. Not to mention, Silph Road provided infographics for communities to use to promote events and give a professional look for communities who may not have a graphic designer readily available. In this episode, my guest is attempting to fill that hole Silph Road left behind. With a passion for hosting events and growing his community, he has been working on developing tools to assist in growing other communities and sharing his knowledge with others. from Peru, Indiana Here is his origin story into the world of Pokemon Go. This is Forte! Now today, I'm joined by the founder of the Pokemon community checkpoint, Forte. Forte, welcome to the show.

Forte:

All right, thank you for having me.

David Hernandez:

Definitely. And we've talked a lot just give some background to people who may not know who you are. You have a lot of background knowledge on the website and you're even trying to start a new one based on the recent announcement of the Silph Road closing its doors. my question, just real quick, not to get too deep into it, is like, what made you want to start something like that for the Pokémon GO community?

Forte:

The big thing was just knowing how easy it is to use some of the basic resources and seeing how many communities weren't doing it just because they don't know how easy those resources are to get to. So my goal has always been to help other communities not only just know what's out there, but know how easy it is to just add another extra level of presence for their communities and to help build their community better.

David Hernandez:

And in your opinion, how can having a website set up help build a community?

Forte:

It's way more memorable to send someone to a website domain like pogo. community, which is our own, rather than discord. gg slash whatever letters. It's a lot more easy to remember if you're hosting a community day, you run into some random players who you've never met before, lot easier to just give them your website than having to go through all the fuss of trying to get them into a discord with some random invite code.

David Hernandez:

let's start from the beginning of your with Pokemon and your experience with building the community. So did you first start playing?

Forte:

So as far as Pokemon in general, since as far as I can remember, I remember waking up on Sunday morning, watch WB4 and watch Pokemon growing up. as far as Pokemon go, I was actually close to a few people who beta tested it in the early days. I was an Ingress player. So a lot of the Ingress players who got to beta test it, I was already friends with. So I got to see some of the early beta tests of the game and I joined day one. I've been around ever since I've taken a couple of hiatuses, but it always draws me back. This game has just always scratched a particular itch that no other Pokemon game ever has.

David Hernandez:

In your opinion, what's different about Pokemon Go than like maybe a main series or a Pokemon Ranger or a spinoff game? Like, what was it about Pokemon Go?

Forte:

it's a community like I honestly anymore. I'm not. I don't even really play all that much. at least not compared to some others. It's always been about the community for me. the whole aspect of Pokemon go being this in person game, it's what drew me into Ingress back in the day and, getting in person with people has always been the highlight of my gaming experience, regardless what game, like conventions and whatnot, that was always my favorite part of getting a nerd culture growing up. Pokemon goes, scratches that same itch.

David Hernandez:

Now, you said that you prefer the community aspect, so did you feel like maybe those are lacking in the, regular Pokemon, like, video game scene compared to, Pokemon Go, or is it just different?

Forte:

Yeah, I mean, I'm sure it exists. It was never something I really got deep into. when it came to my nerd culture, the most I ever did really for in person stuff was, when I was really little, I went to a TCG tournament. I was a little, so I got my butt handed to me, but, I never really got deeper into that because as I started to get older and old enough to really be more into it, I also got old enough to have to be responsible for buying my own cards, which meant I fell out of that pretty quick. None of the other games really naturally led to an in person experience, the same way Pokémon does. I'm sure if you're looking for it, there are for the main series games and for all the others, but Pokémon Go, first and foremost, was an in person game, so it pretty much forced me into that, which... would be normally outside of my comfort zone, but because of how long I've been in Pokemon Go, obviously it's became my comfort zone.

David Hernandez:

That makes sense, especially if you consider, you've been playing Pokemon from the beginning, right?

Forte:

main series, yeah, as long as I can remember, one of my first Christmases that I can remember was a Game Boy Color, with Pokemon Silver.

David Hernandez:

Oh, so you started with Johto,

Forte:

I also played first gen Kanto. I don't remember it very well. I know that I had it, but I don't remember it. I don't ever remember receiving it. I just remember already having it.

David Hernandez:

think about the early days, right? This is before the internet before video games had online ability You were reliant just like Pokemon Go in a way of having people around you, especially at our age, right? Like I don't know how old you are, but like we're like maybe 8 to 11 that age. There wasn't really that of scene after the fandom. It died down in a similar way Pokemon Go was.

Forte:

even growing up, there was a bit of it, but I also grew up in a small town. So even when I was big into it, it was always a solo experience for me, even when online play started to get bigger, online play doesn't have the same community feel, so I still felt, it was still a solo experience by far and large.

David Hernandez:

And then with Pokemon Go, you're strongly encouraged go out and meet other people.

Forte:

Yeah, and especially in the beginning, you were forced. Trying to play this game from home, especially in the beginning, is just not fun. At least not for me. I don't know, I can't speak for everyone, but, even now, even with remote raid passes, even with as much play from home, even during the pandemic, That was when I took my hiatus during the pandemic phase, when everything was being, play from home phase. I did not enjoy that. I know it's really controversial, but I've actually enjoyed some of Niantic's tweaks and actions in terms of rebalancing the game. I've Got mixed feelings on it because obviously as a player who wants to be able to do remote raids, I don't like the price going up either. And on the few times when, I am in a position where I can't go out, I share the same feelings as everyone else. But I also value the in person stuff so much that it's a trade off for me that's been worth it.

David Hernandez:

So you said you took a break during the pandemic was just Pokemon go had become like a one person kind of style, like what made you have to take a break?

Forte:

yeah, it was mostly that. it was a combination of a few different factors in my personal life as well where... I enjoy the game for the community aspect, and during that time, due to a combination of everything that was happening, I didn't have that community aspect anymore. I took a bit of a hiatus, not that I had to, it's just I wasn't interested, I mean, there would be weeks at a time when I'm not even open the game during that time. Right before lockdown started, I had just moved across to a different state, which means that I didn't get a chance to get established with my local community before lockdown happened. So I very much alone in my play with me having my focus being so much on the local community fresh after a move, getting into that like, I didn't have a community day meet up for over a year and There were times when I just wasn't motivated to even open it. It's not that I had to take a break, it's that I didn't want to play. It's just that I got, I was bored of it. I didn't want to do it because I didn't have that community aspect there.

David Hernandez:

Well, let's talk about your old community real quick. So before you moved, during the pandemic, was your old community where you started playing Pokemon go? It was like, that was day one up until you moved.

Forte:

That was the second. I initially started playing in Charlotte, North Carolina. That's where I was living at the time the game came out. they were a big community, but they were fairly unfocused. I love Charlotte and all respect to the people who run the discord server and everyone there. It's just, difficult to manage that big of a community. their servers were huge. so I didn't, I did a little bit of event hosting when I was there. that was a couple years into that. I had hosted a handful of events. I hosted a GoFest meetup where we collected information on like how many Pokemon people have caught throughout the day. So I was able to post some group photos and some statistics in terms of, Hey, as a community, we caught, however many thousand Pokemon that day. even back then, even before Community Day was a thing, I would try to host regular events. One of the specific things that we did was I organized the Pokemon Go 3rd Saturday. So In Ingress there was a monthly community event called First Saturday. It was an event that was designed to help new players to the game get oriented. You'd have old players of the game come out and meet up and bring any of their new players that they're recruiting into the game, It was always a bit of, it was always a community building, event. Details don't really matter for the purposes of Pokémon, but that community building was huge when it came to the way I see community.

David Hernandez:

So basically it sounds like the third Saturday would be the veteran players would invite newer players from a discord or a Facebook or whatever, have you, and what would they do when they would show up during the event?

Forte:

Sure, yeah, so we want to get more into the details of that. Yeah, sure. so to, get the foundation with the Ingress side, Ingress for a lot of people was the first game that they played where it was an in person focused game. some of the mechanics of Ingress made it far more likely for people to run into each other and actually talk to each other. Ingress was far more of a, team game. If you playing solo in Ingress, you're not going to have very much fun. So you're very much incentivized to talk to other players when you run into them. Obviously, they can't lean into that as heavy with Pogo just because of the whole safety aspect with it being more of a family friendly IP than an adult IP. so you'd have veteran players, running in and introducing themselves to new players that they find and they'd invite them to first Saturday and during the event the veteran players would, there's not really an analog to this in Pokemon Go, the closest I could think of is, let's say the veteran players go through and wipe out all the gyms and letting the new players come and reclaim them to help train them and get them experience in the game and help them level up. That's effectively what they would do.

David Hernandez:

okay. And you would do this for Pokemon go, right?

Forte:

Kind of. So I took the same spirit of that. Obviously, claiming gyms in Pokemon Go is not really a great grinding mechanic. there's not really a ton of benefit to grinding gym claiming, all at the same time. That's more of something you do over time so you can get the coins. What I translated that to was an event where we gave prizes and incentives for people to do things like leveling up, like total Pokemon caught, different ways that we could award players for coming out and having fun with the game and the types of things that we would reward people for the types of competitions and winners would be balanced in terms of there are some that were way easier for a new person to the game to play, like leveling up. It's way easier for someone who's new to the game to level up than someone who is a long time veteran. we weren't able to do as much of the whole like mentorship kind of thing. It was mostly the angle of the community building is where it leaned into mostly when it came to the Pokemon Go side.

David Hernandez:

Well, I think it's an interesting idea because one of the biggest problems within the Pokemon Go community, and you've probably experienced this with Ingress, there's no instruction booklet that comes with this. Um, I'm on Reddit, I'm on Facebook, I'm on everywhere, and a lot of people just don't know about some of the simple things that, myself, you, and even other veteran players know, that we've known for years. And I like that concept to where you're doing the third Saturday, similar to Ingress, to where maybe there's an idea to where, and maybe this goes beyond me, maybe the people, maybe leaders who are listening to this episode can figure it out, there's an idea to where we think of some of the more complicated stuff that comes with Pokemon Go that needs better explanation that you can't do online, and develop some kind of, almost like a miniature community day but to where we do, we invite trainers out, maybe do some raids together, Tell about the game, and it also brings people together and I think there's something there that I had never thought of until it's something so simple until you somebody else brings it up. I'm like, why didn't I of that kind of idea?

Forte:

And we still do that kind of stuff as as an after party for community day. So every community day we have an after party. And so like I actually taught a bunch of the people how to do quick catch,

David Hernandez:

Exactly. That's that's one of them. Yeah, because if you try to explain quick catch on text, it's near impossible. That's something that's perfect. That's one of the good example right there.

Forte:

Yep. Yep. And there are a lot of people who are like, they were worried that, that kind of thing was cheating or whatever. or like they were duping balls. And I was also able to address those concerns as well. Like, no, Niantic has, made very clear that in game glitches are not cheating. I would reference the old, community ambassador FAQ page where it would describe, hey, what do we define as cheating? and I'd explain like why, hey, no, fast catch while it is technically a glitch. Totally acceptable. And we actually encourage it as part of our community's way of, encouraging players to, have more fun, get more of a challenge, people love that kind of stuff.

David Hernandez:

where would you host this kind of event for Pokemon Go? would you go to a community spot or would you just pick a random park or a mall?

Forte:

generally, I have found that parks are the best one. what I would do in Charlotte back when, before Community Day was a thing, we just rent a shelter at a local Pokémon GO Hotspot Park, Because that's also the most likely place for a Pokémon GO player to be, even if they're not even aware of our event. That made it so that people could discover us organically. which, At the very beginning of our events, a vast majority of people had no idea the event was happening. They just happened to be in the park, see what we were doing, cause we'd, I'd set up some sort of sign that says Pokemon Go event or something like that. And they'd just walk up, ask what's going on, and we'd invite them in, Clue them into all the different places the community was and they eventually turn into regulars. I still have someone who didn't know we existed, but ever since they stumbled upon us they have came to every single community meet up.

David Hernandez:

Wow, dang, so they're really dedicated ever since being involved with your group.

Forte:

yeah, and you've got a lot of different demographics in Pokemon Go. got some of the younger kids, or some of the younger adults they were Pokemon fans as a kid, and they play for Pokemon. You've also got a bunch of the older crowd who didn't really care for Pokemon, they didn't really grow up with it or anything, but they just discovered the game and just legitimately enjoy it as their only Pokemon go experience or Pokemon experience. This is one of those players. They're one of the older players in our community that have no idea what Pokemon is outside of Pokemon go. they are also one of the other players who the community is what pulls them in, and, we want to be that for them.

David Hernandez:

what's your favorite part besides the setting of events? what's your way to play Pokemon Go? are you a shiny hunter or PVP collector? Like,

Forte:

Well,

David Hernandez:

style?

Forte:

as odd as it is, I am an extremely casual player when it comes to my actual normal day to day gameplay, but if I had to pick one, it would be Gyms. the territory war of Gyms reminds me more of my old Ingress days. one of the things that I loved about Ingress was that the Team Turf War. The both collaborative within your team, but also competitive with the other team. I've always been a fan of both collaboration and competition, and that's In Ingress it was the perfect mix. Pokemon Go, not many people care about the competition of gyms, but I still get a kick out of rolling through town, flipping every gym yellow and being able to just look over at everything I've claimed. the coins for me are a bonus, I claim the gyms just for the satisfaction of the turf war. it's good, clean fun in my opinion.

David Hernandez:

So you basically have free reign because most of the time instinct is the minority when it comes to these turf wars, it's usually a valor or mystic, right?

Forte:

And it varies a lot. I've been, Ingress would always have me traveling a lot to different areas. So I have got connections in a bunch of different, smaller towns around and different cities and states. so it would have me travel sometimes and I'd flip over to Ingress and it varies a lot. I've been to some towns where instinct was by far the dominating force. but in general, yeah, instinct usually not.

David Hernandez:

where's the hotspot to go whenever, like, you have a community day or a raid day? Like, where's the area you go in the town you're currently living in?

Forte:

So that's going to be, our Riverwalk. So I live in a town of Peru, Indiana. and we have a Riverwalk Park. it's a strip about a kilometer or two long. and I know that because you can hatch a single two kilometer egg less than a lap. I don't know exactly what it is, but it's roughly that. it's dense with Pokestops. It's probably the best Pokemon Go grinding spot, at least in my opinion, for at least an hour to drive. It's a relatively small town, but the town has a decent amount of mix of historic and also just informational plaques along the Riverwalk. it's one of the places where our park budget goes the most too, just because it's one of our town's favorite parks and so there's a good amount of nominatable stuff along it, and we've been building it for a while.

David Hernandez:

So, by building it, I'm guessing, are you involved in Wayfair? Is it like, there's some

Forte:

oh yeah, sorry, I should probably be more clear. Yeah, back when it was still just Ingress, I nominated most of the portals in this town. between me and my father, we both played pretty hardcore in this town, and we nominated most of the ones that the game started with. So when Pokemon Go first launched, everything that was already here, They were mostly things that me and my father nominated through Ingress, but since Pokemon Go has gained access to, nominations as well, the Go community has gone crazy. There's been a lot of great building here. I would consider myself laying the groundwork, but the community, the local community, especially a local player we have called Iceberg, They have done a great job of making sure everything stays filled in, especially as new things get built, they've been on top of things.

David Hernandez:

So you said you laid the groundwork, like you started the city, but You see these Pokemon Go players who are building on top of what you built. what goes through your mind when you see these Pokemon players being so active trying to add POI to the city you and your father first started?

Forte:

Yeah. so when Ingress first started, they used a generic, it's called a historical marker database. HMDB. I believe it's HMDB. org. They started with just their database. And we only had I want to say three or four POIs in our town. we nominated a bunch. and so yeah, there's the groundwork there. And then as far as seeing the GO community take over, I'll be completely honest, as an Ingress veteran, I was extremely nervous, because anytime that you crowdsource something like this. While having a low barrier to entry is great for letting players have fun, when it comes to doing things like building the Wayfarer network, having that low barrier to entry also means A lot more crap gets through, just to be blunt. and so I was really nervous about that and I have seen where in some communities it's gone bad. But, at least as far as my local community, it's been awesome. I have been extremely proud of my local community. I have also seen some where it's not been quite so positive. I'm sure you've seen occasionally on social media, those areas where someone uses it, someone abuses the system to cram like a hundred Pokestops in a really tight spot and it's all fake. It, those actual nominations aren't there. they've just been abusing the wayfarer edit system. it's a mixed bag. When you have that low barrier to entry, it's easy for people who have good intentions, but it's also easy for people who have bad intentions.

David Hernandez:

Now, with your experience with Pokemon, do you have any favorite Pokemon at all?

Forte:

I always feel so basic when people ask me this question, because it's always been Pikachu. just because he's always been the mascot, and ever since I was a little kid, he's always been the one who I've been the most emotionally attached to, because he's, he's the show made you emotionally attached to. Like, when I was a kid, the episode in the, I believe it was the first season of the anime, where Ash almost, said goodbye to Pikachu.

David Hernandez:

I was a tearjerker.

Forte:

It was! even, so I have the song from that episode in some of my playlists, and I still get emotional listening to that song.

David Hernandez:

you didn't know as a kid, like if this was permanent and even the ending of how it ended, it's a happy ending and you still get emotional about it. So it was a mixed feelings. I remember that episode very clearly. I couldn't it it always made me very sad.

Forte:

Mm hmm. Or the Butterfree one. Yep. but yeah, absolutely. so anyway, the Pokemon company at a very early age did a really great job of imprinting Pikachu on me in such a way that it's an informed favorite. It's not necessary. It's not just a basic favorite. If though, I set that aside, I've always been a big fan of Lucario and Shinx. I like the blue color schemes, and. they've just always been my favorite for some reason or another.

David Hernandez:

So, going back to your experience with setting up events and trying to get involved with the community, what makes you want to set up all these events? Because it's a lot of hard work, you don't get paid for it, at least I don't think you do. what drives you to want to make these events for people to get involved, for people to experience Pokémon GO?

Forte:

at first it was just, I want to be able to attend to this event, no one around me is building it. I want to be able to attend. So the only thing left to do is make it myself. that's how it started, but anymore, like I get so much enjoyment out of the organization like That satisfaction of building something and being successful at it. That's become a very core part of my Pokemon Go experience in general. I'll lean more into my most recent community building experience like I said, I live in a small town, in Peru, Indiana. When I first moved here, like I said before, it was around the time the pandemic lockdown started and there basically was no in person community. By that time, everyone was pretty much staying home, the game was mostly dead, and as the community, as the people in the area started playing more often, as the Discord server that did exist started getting more activity, almost everyone was just doing remote raids. I didn't really engage with anyone in person. It was always, hey, you guys want a raid? Sure, send me an invite. And I'm like, that's not really what I wanted, but sure. As the pressure from COVID started to loosen up a bit, I started trying to just jump right into it hosting a community day event. Basically no one showed up. so I decided to re... I decided to pivot a little bit. I make these little... You know the gifts that you send to each other in game?

David Hernandez:

Yes,

Forte:

Niantic a few years back for GoFest released a little paper version of that, but it was really small. If you were to have made it, it was so small. So what I did was I took that basic design and I scaled it up. I redesigned it from scratch and scaled it up to where the final gift box was about six inches tall. And I hid those as scavenger hunt prizes throughout the park. At first I made them really obvious where they were, so that anyone playing Pokemon Go would see them without even having to look for them. And I slowly started to hide them a bit better, and eventually, people in the Discord community started asking about them, like, Hey! You know, is that happening this month? Are you doing that again this month? And at that point, I knew I had the community like ready to actually start being in person again. I knew I had enough people interested that we could actually host an event. definitely still started out small. I think our first community day meetup was about 10 people. But over time, it started to get bigger and bigger. Our biggest event so far had about 60 people and that's included.

David Hernandez:

That's crazy.

Forte:

Yeah, that's including kids. To be fair. if I weren't to include the kids, probably would be around 40 to 50. we keep check in stats. So I actually have a list of every player name who's attended all of our events. We check them in by player name. but the satisfaction of being able to build these events and give people so much fun. there are people who drive in to our meetup from over an hour away. They come from one of the bigger towns nearby that doesn't really have much of an in person Pokemon Go community, or at least not a community day community. and so they drive in and it's, always been great. Just to illustrate how my focus of the game has shifted so much into the community organizing side. Every month I buy the community day ticket and I also will randomly give it away to a few of our locals through my friends list, occasionally, just randomly, I will gift them the Community Day ticket, just because, I've got a budget I've set for myself for in app purchases, and if I've not reached it by the time that comes around, I'll usually burn it that way, just to give the locals a bit more incentive to come out and join us for the event. I don't have it in front of me, but I've got many, I've got about almost a half dozen community day researches that I've never completed just because I was so focused on hosting that I forgot to play.

David Hernandez:

It gets very difficult whenever you're the leader and you're trying to make sure everybody else has a good time that you kind of take care of the stuff that you have to do. It's oh, crud. I needed to take care of this is a year and a half old,

Forte:

yeah, but also it's that I'm having so much fun being the organizer. I'm having so much fun being the MC for the event that I mean, I probably so I have a co admin and if I really wanted to prioritize my own gameplay, I could take turns with her. my co admins DJ Raven Wolf, she's been instrumental to building the community with me. The first year or so I was doing it by myself. But once I started being interested in Hosting again, and actually started having these meetups again. I reached out to another local who was, pretty active in the server and I'm like, Hey, you're pretty active. Would you be interested in helping with this? at the time, this was shortly after Niantic had originally announced the community ambassador program. and I decided that, hey, I want to get into this community ambassador program. Will you help me? And from there we were able to do them. So I could, the only reason I bring her up was that if I really wanted to, if I was really missing out on it, I could probably organize with her to take shifts, so to speak at the shelter.

David Hernandez:

right?

Forte:

I just have so much fun being there as the MC like it's not that I'm so busy that I can't do it. It's that I'm having so much fun hosting that I forget to do it.

David Hernandez:

there's two things that come to mind with everything you said. The first one was you said somebody coming from a bigger city to your small town experience community day. That to me shows how much you've spent time trying to build something up because you always hear the opposite, right? Of people from a small town have to go to a big town. And now for you, this 1 is the opposite. the 2nd thing was I actually looked up Peru, Indiana. So for those who are curious, the population is of 11, 073. So you're not a, You really are a small town and my question really is this because one of the big counter arguments for the remote raids is that it really alienates a lot of the rural small town areas which, it is difficult, I know using English player, I'm a pogo player, I do Wayfair, I know there's not much out there. usually we have to go out there to be able to build it up. My question is this is What kind of advice could you give somebody who maybe isn't a small town, who maybe not, doesn't have either a community or an organized community, is there a way for them to build it up from what your experience?

Forte:

Oh, yeah, absolutely. at the end of the day, there's only so many people who already play in your area. So when it comes to building communities, I'll say like, when I first got here, there was only maybe Two or three people who were actually active in the discord server. so what you do is you work on bringing more people in. One of my biggest pushes in the early days of building my community was Sharing my events into not Pokemon specific groups, but local specific groups, peru events, Miami County events. I'd share it into there and I would pitch it to people as a family activity. Hey, even if you don't already play, come out, give it a shot, it's a lot of fun. It's a good family friendly activity. and day, I still that. I regularly share our events into our local. city groups, not specifically just the Pogo groups. Our town, Facebook is the primary platform as, as much as I'm not a big fan of Facebook personally, it's where most of our town does its online socializing, there's not a Reddit community for our town. it's mostly Facebook groups. every single month as soon as I had details posted in there and pitch it to people as a hey, come out and have some fun with your family. one of the biggest things is we would pitch it to the local Facebook groups as a family activity. and we would make sure that we're constantly, Hey, here's the game, here's how to play. recently, there has been full families that come out. there's a, family of six, they now come out for almost all of our events and that's a full six different people that come to the events now, that all play together as a family. We recruited one family, but six people. That's a lot when you can, when it comes to these kinds of events. And so by targeting that general area, you're able to build a community faster because you're not just relying on trying to pull people in who already like Pokemon go.

David Hernandez:

You're trying to get more people who maybe not touch the game come in and that's a really creative strategy to be able to recruit people to come play the game to where, yeah, you may be the only person or maybe the only two or three, but it doesn't have to be that way. There's a lot of people who've never played this game before.

Forte:

Absolutely. and not to mention the fact that families are a great way to build a community or build the turnout to the events faster because you're getting a whole family. you're not just inviting a single player. You're inviting a whole family. That's a great way to build your numbers faster and once you start to get to a certain number for your events, they're big enough like if you see two people sitting at a shelter in a park, you're not going to think much of it, but if you see 12 people at a shelter in a park, you're going to be more curious of what's going on. It allows you to have it so that the bigger you build the faster you can build your community. so much of our community growth is through people just seeing our events during community day, seeing us as an event as a group during community day and asking what's going on and joining us that way.

David Hernandez:

You know, you talk about how you built a community and now you're doing that with the recent announcement of the Silph road you're doing that through the Pogo community checkpoint. can you talk about that? Like share what that's about people who are listening,

Forte:

Oh, absolutely. as I was going through community building, there have been a number of different ways that I have tried to share this experience and the resources that I've done and the knowledge that I've learned the hard way. there's been a few things that I've definitely learned the hard way. Silph Road was always something I recommended people get involved with if they want to build a community because the Silph League resources were great. Being able to have the traveler card system to be able to motivate people to check in, hey, if you come to our event, you'll earn a badge. you have this like reward for attending these events that Silph Road allowed us to be able to provide. That was a great resource. And then on top of that, Silph Road brought us together in the Silph League Discord server as community leaders, where we were able to have a lot of cross pollination of different ideas because I discovered the Vancouver Pokémon GO community through Silph League, I now follow them, and I regularly get motivation or I regularly get ideas from stuff that they do. I will regularly have, the Pokemon Go Vancouver Facebook page pop up on my feed. I'm like, oh, that's so cool, we should try that. The Silph League is what gave us a community where that cross pollination of ideas was able to happen. Them shutting down without any sort of replacement is going to severely negatively impact people's ability to grow their communities. Existing communities like my own, it's not going to be affected that badly by Silph going away. But Silph provided so many resources for people who are just starting out to make it easier. It's so much easier to make a Facebook event and attract people if you already have a really pretty graphic to be able to attach to it. Silph Road putting out those graphics made it so that people could have more inviting ways to publish their events without having to be a graphic designer themselves. that's one of the ways you build a community is by being able to put your best foot forward and Silph Road allowed a lot of growing communities to do that. and You know, fan fanboying about Silk Road enough as unfortunately, they did announce their closure. there was a project that I've had on the back burner for years. originally, it was called 3rd Saturday, which I touched on. It eventually was renamed to trainer services. But shortly after Silph Road started doing Community Day, it died out because it was largely unnecessary. Silph Road was already bigger than us and they were already doing it better than us at the time. that project eventually just, melted into the background. over the past year or so, I was trying to revive it with something called Pogo Pages, Pogo Pages was, basically, I wanted a domain name an actual... proper website address that I could direct people to during community day instead of having to try to remember a long discord invite code, because there were a lot of people who they weren't discord friendly. They weren't Pokemon go friendly already. They were Barely use their smartphone, but they were interested in joining us because they saw what we were having going on. I bought the website pogo. community, or the, I bought the domain pogo. community and started using it for my own group. I have a URL, 7Pidgeys.pogo.community. Way easier to remember that. Way easier for people to type that in when they're trying to find us. I realized that it costs me nothing extra to add other communities. So anything that's before that first dot, so sevenpigees. pogo, let's say nyc. pogo. community, any community name, it doesn't actually financially cost me anything to add, what are called subdomains. so I decided to start sharing that with them, with some of my other community leader connections. I've got connections in Indianapolis. I've got connections in St. Louis. so I've, reached out to them and I'm like, Hey, would you guys be interested in having your own, actual domain website? Not having to be on some sort of, discord. gg slash whatever random characters. And there was enough interest that I decided, well, hey, I want to make this accessible to everyone. I don't want people to have to know me to be able to get access to this. So I started the website, pages.pogo.Community, where any Pokemon Go community could go to request a free website and it is completely free. there are some limitations because of how manually it has to be set up. I can only set up so many, so as things start to pick back up, there will likely be like a wait list system or something. I've not decided exactly how all that exactly is going to function. But basically, you go to the website, there's a gallery of templates that you can get of your website, you choose a template, you tell me what you want it to be and I set you up with a website that is based on Google sites. It's really easy to use. You don't have to be tech savvy at all. If you know how to edit a Google doc, you can set up this website. Really simple. So I wanted to have people who have access to that. Well, fast forward a couple of weeks, silph Road announces they're sunsetting, they're closing down. All those community cards where people would, because a lot of people use their Silph Road community page as their landing page. Hey, go to our Silph, SilphRoad. com slash C slash their community name. at that point, they'd have links to their, their Facebook, their discord, their all that, but that was going away, people didn't have access to that. So I. decided to pivot that pages project into what we're now calling pogo community checkpoint. Silph in general is leaving a lot of holes. Silph Arena, the PvP side, Silph Road, the website where they set up things like the raids, the community maps, the research information, lot of different spaces that Silph filled. with this project, pivoting it to be able to, I don't want to say replace because no one can ever really replace Silph. they were invaluable. But I'm hoping to carry the spirit of Silph League on specifically, where Silph League is specifically that effort to help those grassroots community organizers, give everyone in a place where those cross pollination of ideas can happen, and support people by doing things like Publishing community day assets, giving them access to resources like a free website, helping them with other sorts of things, like having a place where someone can say, Hey, I'm trying to build my community. Here's what I've tried so far. How can I do better? what can I do to have a community day, allowing, people with my myself who have the experience in building that kind of stuff and hopefully more, allowing a channel, allowing a space where you can have that cross pollination of ideas and trying to foster it.

David Hernandez:

That's awesome, man. there's so many amazing people working behind the scenes who take the initiative and think of these creative ideas they don't just wait and just let things happen. They really just take, we call it, take the bull by the horns here in Texas and run with it. And just hearing just how passionate you are about trying to cross pollinate ideas, because I learned so much just hearing this just now. I'm like, you clearly you've been around people who work with communities who live and breathe trying to build these areas up. And that's the only way that this game is going to survive is, People like you and everybody else learn from each other and be able to take the ideas back to our communities and try to build them back post 2020

Forte:

Absolutely. Absolutely. I'll just say, I can shout out one person who is running the Community Day League, if you've heard of it. Community Day League is like a little competitive angle on Community Day, where you can check in and compete on the total number of Community Day Pokémon you've caught, total shinies, there's a whole scoring system. MakoMW is their Discord handle. I'm not sure what their in game name is or what they prefer to go by, but they run the Community Day League and It's something that I am so proud of like I wish I were more and I wish I would have thought to do that myself because it's such a great way of accomplishing something that I've always wanted to which was make Community Day more of a collaborative event rather than just a bunch of people in the same place, If you're not familiar with Community Day League, one of the things that they do is they allow communities to compete against each other. And you get a personal score, but also your personal score contributes to your community score. there's a big spirit of collaboration within your community, on top of that competitive within the community, which, as I mentioned in Ingress, that mix of collaboration and competition has always been something that's been a really big motivator for me. so if anyone listening hasn't heard of the Community to League, I highly recommend looking into it. I'm hoping to collaborate with them more with the Checkpoint project because they are doing some really great things.

David Hernandez:

forte that's the show but before we do go if people wanted to get connected with you to set up the website or to get involved with your project how can they get a hold of you where can they go by all means please plug away.

Forte:

So our best place is to start is just pogo.community.. that's going to be the base for all of our other sub projects. if you go there, you can get into the discord server. The banner at the top is acknowledging silver road sunset. And there's a link to actually join our discord server. The discord server is where a majority of the activity is happening as the activity starts to stabilize more. It'll flow back to the website. So if you don't have a discord, you can just keep an eye on the website that will get updated in time.

David Hernandez:

Cool beans and I'll make sure to include links to everything that he said in the description of today's episode. Thank you for listening to As the Pokéball Turns. If you want to support the show, consider becoming a patron by either clicking the link in the description or going to patreon.com/asthepokéballturns. Now here's a sneak peek for the next episode of As the Pokéball Turns.

Introduction
Interview with Forte
Thank You For Listening! :)