Much has been written recently about new Augmented Reality game, Pokemon Go, which allows players to catch Pokémon in real time while exploring different areas and landmarks.
While some have validly cautioned about the safety issues of staring at your smartphone while crossing busy roads or venturing to unfamiliar places, others have praised the game for encouraging players to explore their environment and get exercising. The game recognises when players are actually walking or using transport, so things like hatching eggs only work when users are actually exercising, encouraging them to get out and about.
Another positive is the social aspect of the game, if players gather at a spot where ‘incense’ (to lure Pokémon to the area) has been left, the opportunity to socialise and make new friends with common interests arises. It is unsurprising then, that some players of Pokémon Go have reported an improvement in mental health since starting to play.
While this hasn’t been proven, there have been many reports including one on The Huffington Post which quotes previous research into the affects of exercising outside: “exercising with visual prompts of green spaces had even more “important” health consequences than without.” Others emphasise the importance of the social aspect, for example this article from the National Post which recognises that “people with social anxiety are meeting other players in the context of play, where social interaction can seem less daunting.”
Though some may dismiss the game as silly, addictive and childish, anything which is getting people exercising and socialising sounds to me to be a very positive thing indeed. It is still early days, but I’m excited to see what will happen with Pokémon Go next