By now I’m sure all of you have heard of (or are hopefully playing) the latest craze, Pokemon Go. I have never before endorsed a video game as being good for you, but this one really seems to be good for your health. For those of you who have been living under a rock since the app’s release on the 7th, Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game you can download on your phone or device. It allows you to go out into the real world and catch Pokemon for your collection. One of the more fitness-related aspects of the game is that you get eggs which require you to walk a certain distance to hatch and get you a new Pokémon. The eggs vary in distance between 2 and 10 kilometers, and you actually have to walk to hatch them you can’t drive (if your speed is too fast it doesn’t count). It’s been a great way to get people out of the house and active.
As you all know I’m fairly active most days anyway, as my fitbit motivates me to get steps but since I downloaded Pokemon Go I have walking well over my 10,000 steps a day. Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m very competitive and driven to beat others so this has become a bit of a mild addiction for me. While normally being addicted to a video game would be a bad thing, this one gets me outside and walking so it actually leads to positive outcomes most of the time. My drive to catch more Pokémon and level my current ones up has become so fierce that I’ve had to run home in the rain because I refused to quit for the day before I caught a certain number of pokemon.
This is the rain-soaked face of addiction. My first day playing, and was totally worth the extra cardio to catch that Eevee.
One of the greatest things about Pokemon Go is its ability to get people outside and being active who never would have considered doing it before. I’ve read so many stories online about people who are very overweight and never had motivation to go outside now walking several miles in a day because of this game. Pokemon Go has had a huge effect on the gaming community, who typically are known to spend much of their time inside playing on consoles or computers and has been able to get people outside and walking. I’ve seen several internet memes and jokes about things like this being the way Michelle Obama is getting our youth to be active, or how Pokemon Go is causing pain in people’s legs from walking for the first time in years. While those are said in jest, in truth the app has had a pretty positive effect on the level of activity in millennials and people who normally wouldn’t be outside.
Pokemon Go has not only encouraged people to get outside, but has also made them interact with others. At Pokestops (locations where you can stock up on free items like pokeballs), you are able to set up a “lure module” which draws Pokemon to the location. However people are finding that when they set up lures, they’re also attracting a number of people to the area. People who already have one thing in common and aren’t afraid to interact with people who share in their nerddom. I read a great story on reddit over the weekend about a girl who got a date thanks to Pokemon Go. She experiences a lot of social anxiety and hadn’t been interacting with others much since her devastating break up earlier this year, while waiting for the servers to come back up she started chatting with a nice guy about the game and they added each other on social media and then she asked him out. This app really is bringing people together and out of their shells more than anything I’ve ever seen before.
A huge group turned up at the Sydney Opera House to play Pokemon Go, Australia was the first country to get the app.
The other night, my friend Will and I decided to go adventure around UCF campus while it wasn’t so oppressively hot outside. It wasn’t a total surprise to see hundreds of other people with the same idea, but it was certainly a pleasant one. While we were walking around people were shouting out locations of rarer Pokémon and asking for help finding ones they couldn’t seem to get. Will and I were lucky enough to stumble upon a couple of Lickitungs, Hitmonchan, and Squritle while we were there plus catching a number of others and we managed to walk some 2 miles while we did it. That’s the great thing about this app, it’s a total distraction from the fact that you’re getting exercise and makes it fun!
Just a small group of the hundreds of people on UCF campus at 11pm on a Tuesday night.
If any of my readers have any fun Pokemon Go stories to share or want to discuss their collections or anything having to do with the game, feel free to leave a comment. I would love to hear about how this app has affected you!