07 Jun 2022
07 Jun 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal GC.

The Potential for Using Video Games to Teach Geoscience: Learning About the Geology and Geomorphology of Hokkaido (Japan) from Playing Pokémon Legends: Arceus

Edward G. McGowan1 and Lewis J. Alcott2,3 Edward G. McGowan and Lewis J. Alcott
  • 1School of Geography, Geology and the Environment, University of Leicester, Leicester, LE1 7RH, United Kingdom
  • 2Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, USA
  • 3Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA

Abstract. In recent years, the concept of using video games as a form of geoscience communication has been gaining momentum. Popular commercial video games see millions of people around the world immersed in wonderous landscapes, many filled with real geological features including volcanoes, mineral deposits, and dinosaurs. Even though these features can be overlooked by many players as simple video game tropes, if utilised in educational environments or scientific outreach events, such video games could be used to encourage and stimulate the teaching of geoscientific concepts, both in the classroom or in their own time. This paper will focus on the geo-educational potential of Pokémon Legends: Arceus, the latest game in the popular Pocket-Monster franchise, Pokémon. Released at the start of 2022 on the Nintendo Switch, the game saw over 6.5 million players in its first week explore the virtual open-world landscape of Hisui. Unlike several popular commercial video games that are set in a fictional landscape, Hisui is directly based on the real-world island of Hokkaido, northern Japan. From an educational standpoint, Pokémon Legends: Arceus could be used as a powerful tool to help younger students engage more in their learning by utilising their natural affinity to the popular game and showcasing the many geological and geomorphological features found across the landscape of Hisui. This paper showcases how geological and geomorphic features can be identified in the game and researched using formal (peer-reviewed literature) and informal (online websites) resources to learn about the geological origin of their real-world counterparts on Hokkaido. Applications for this study could prove to be extremely useful for not only increasing interest and facilitating the self-learning of geoscience worldwide, but also for teaching in educational environments.

Edward G. McGowan and Lewis J. Alcott

Status: open (until 02 Aug 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on gc-2022-10', Jamie Pringle, 20 Jun 2022 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on gc-2022-10', Jazmin Scarlett, 22 Jun 2022 reply

Edward G. McGowan and Lewis J. Alcott

Edward G. McGowan and Lewis J. Alcott


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Short summary
Pokémon Legends: Arceus, released in early 2022, is set in the virtual region of Hisui, which is based on the real-world island of Hokkaido, Japan. By comparing in-game geological features, landscapes, and place names to real counterparts in Hokkaido, we demonstrate how it is possible to use popular video games to learn about a range of geoscientific concepts from real-world places. These results are encouraging for the use of popular video games to be used as an educational tool.