Okay, confession time: I, like many, many others, am entirely hooked on Pokemon GO. I was a huge fan of the Gameboy games and Pokemon Go is pretty much everything I wanted Pokemon to be as a child. So I sit here writing this as a grown ass woman who reached level 21 in seven days and who will go out after work to kick team Valor out of my gym (Go team Mystic! Don't tell me you are suprised I chose the path of wisdom). At any rate, it seems not just the players have taken notice of Pokemon GO. Unless you have lived under a rock somewhere the last week or so, you know what Pokemon GO is and how it works.

Pokemon GO is an augmented reality game. Basically you walk around with your phone. Through a collaboration with Google(Maps), Pokemon GO shows you an overlay of your location and places items into it, like Pokemon and battle gyms. What it also does, though, is turn landmarks like churches and artworks into hotspots which players must visit to get items that are important in the game. This is not a new concept, by the way, but it's never been used in anything as mainstream as Pokemon GO, meaning that many people are now familiar with the idea.

Pokestops (and gyms) have become either the bane or the bread of many small businesses, who have realized that these two attract people to their business. Some find it frustrating to have a bunch of people in front fo their store or out on their terrace with their head down to a screen but it's befinitely a boon for PR and (hopefully) sales.

The wild success of Pokémon Go has illustrated the potential of augmented reality to the masses. It has also inspired a number of archaeologists to begin to ponder how iOS and Android AR apps could be used to involve students and the general public in the history and heritage of various archaeological sites. In the wake of Pokémon Go mania, gamifying archaeology presents more possibilities for engaging the public and preserving cultural heritage than ever before.

Forbes spoke with Andrew Reinhard, a scholar and archaeologist on the forefront of gaming and archaeology, who heads up publications at the American Numismatic Society. Besides work in both fields, he also writes about archaeogaming on his blog. His recent blog post discusses the role of AR in archaeology and his own quest to visit a few PokéStops around Princeton, New Jersey. He, too, has taken note of the usefulness for small business owners of luring people to pokestops and gyms and calls to apply it to ancient sites as well.

"Sites that want visitor traffic to increase should use those [small business] steps… A site is a business. It competes for one’s discretionary time and income (if admission is charged)."

He notes that museums such as the MOMA are already doing this and archaeological sites are not far behind. But why not go beyond it?

Certainly there were a number of archaeologists working to introduce augmented reality apps to cultural heritage sites long before Pokémon Go came around. Pokémon Go’s parent company, Niantic, already has an app called “Field Trip” that runs in the background of your phone and alerts you when you are near certain sites. A pop-up card comes onto your screen when you get near certain historical places or markers of interest. Reinhard was integral to bringing together the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA) with Field Trip, so that visitors to the Athenian Agora could learn more about the ancient sites. The app similarly focuses on the novelty of discovery and uses the GPS functionality of most cell phones, but is missing a key component: gaming.

Just imagine a mobile game where people could go to the site and race an ancient runner. Integrating the public into the site via competition and games, rather than just giving them Wikipedia-like entries, is what will likely hold their interest more fully.

Other archaeologists are thinking about how AR can recreate more than just the view. Some are also trying to reconstruct the sensory environment of sites. An app currently under development wants to allow visitors to see, smell, hear, and touch sites. Another AR app under development, this one from University of British Columbia archaeologist Kevin Fisher and UBC’s MAGIC Centre wants to allow users to see recreations of ancient sites in the same mode as Google Street View. The first site they are focusing on is the Late Bronze Age archaeological site of Kalavasos on the island of Cyprus.

These projects make it clear that the future of classical archaeology may rely on allowing visitors not only to view, but also to participate in archaeological sites. Speaking of which: the impact on cultural heritage sites has been both good and bad so far. As Reinhard remarked:

"Some hallowed places have banned people from playing Pokemon GO while visiting: The Holocaust Museum, Arlington National Cemetery, Auschwitz. Niantic had not screened sensitive sites to keep monsters from appearing there.”

As augmented reality apps become more well-known to the general public, there will be new caveats and pitfalls to consider, but Pokémon Go will undoubtedly have an impact on the field. I, for one, am very interested to see what will happen.