If you’ve seen groups of people clustered together glued to their phones, chances are they’re part of the latest craze…Pokémon Go. Pokémon Go is a mobile game app. It uses your mobile GPS to help you track the Pokémons. Every time you go to a new place, there’s a chance to find a new Pokémon. Basically, you want to find the Pokémons, get coins, and then level up.
While it may sound like just another app, if you play it, you know it’s become much more than that. As of July 2016, there were about 21 million active users a day! That makes it the biggest mobile game in U.S. history. Researchers have found that people are spending more time on the Pokémon app than on Facebook.
Since people are investing so much of their time with the app, what are they getting out of it? Besides the satisfaction of winning, there are actual health benefits to playing Pokémon Go.
Getting People Moving
In order to win you have to find the Pokémons. In order to find the Pokémons, you have to move. This means getting people off the couch and out walking as they search far and wide. The game is motivating people to exercise whether they realize it or not. In a time when obesity is such an issue, anything that can get people moving is a plus.
For many people being alone makes them depressed. As Pokémon is bringing people out of their houses, it is also bringing them together. This sense of community and belonging is helping to reduce depression as they get out and socialize.
Bringing People Together
While Pokémon is bringing people together, it is helping to create a sense of community. I’ve seen this first hand where I live. People gather on a walking path in packs, trying to find the next Pokémon. At first I had no idea why so many people were huddled together. I thought it was part of some kind of party, but I soon realized it was all about the Pokémon! In a time when there is so much tearing us apart, what’s the harm if a little Pokémon brings us together?
Even for those not suffering from depression, getting outside and walking around has its health benefits. Getting out and moving in the great outdoors produces endorphins. Those endorphins have a positive effect on our mood. So, if you’re feeling a little cranky, a round of Pokémon could be just what you need.
Anything that gets our wheels turning is boosting our brain. When you’re playing Pokémon Go, you’re working on your memorization skills. Brain booster number 1. Researchers say the app also forces you to navigate to find the Pokémons. Your phone can show you where they are, but you have to get yourself there to find them. Brain booster number 2. Researchers have also found that playing the game ignites the reward center in our brains when we actually succeed. Brain booster number 3.
So, the next time someone criticizes you for playing Pokémon Go again, you can remind them about these health benefits. At least you’re moving around, being social, and boosting your brain all while having some fun. There aren’t too many video games out there that can do all of that simultaneously. Who knows, maybe this Pokémon Go craze is the start of a new generation of games!