Pokémon Go has already sent social media into meltdown, and quickly become the number one app for both Android and iOS; and it has only just been officially released. A twist on the nineties classic, Pokémon Go uses a new and improved GPS system to enhance its augmented reality and make the game come alive.
The game feels nostalgic, and more importantly, it has got people moving. Intentionally or unintentionally, Niantic have developed a game that has the potential to improve many people’s fitness and even their mental health. Pokémon Go could well be the health app of the year.
How does it work?
For keen Pokémon gamers, you won’t need an explanation about how the game works. But for those of you who don’t know…
- At the very start of the game, you get to customise your own trainer, choosing your hair colour and clothes.
- After this, you get a choice. A choice every hard-core Pokémon gamer is accustomed to; choosing your first Pokémon. Squirtle, Charmander or Bulbasour? (There’s only really one choice, right? Charmander, obviously).
- Scattered around the world are ‘Pokestops’, where you collect Poke balls and other items; and ‘Gyms’, where you can battle other Pokémon trainers for the right to own the gym.
- The main aim of the game, however, is to capture Pokémon; and the only way to do this is to walk/ run/ cycle around the area. With the Pokémon games of old, you could manually move your character; but this only gave your thumbs a workout. With Pokémon Go, you actually have to move around; and it becomes very addictive, very quickly. Those with a competitive nature will want to find the best Pokémon, meaning you will end up walking many miles just to ‘catch ‘em all’.
Case study (Reddit user)
‘Day one. Release day. I walked over 3k “just because.” Since then this game has been nothing short of a miracle. After day 1, I haven’t walked less than 4k a day. I haven’t done that in 4 years.’
‘I’m actually talking to people and meeting people, because of ‘lures’ and stops. I have conversations with people on what’s where, today I told someone I’ve never met where a Squirtle spawned. And I’m talking to people I haven’t spoken to in several years because of this.’
‘This is turning-water-into-wine level changes for me. These are things that I thought couldn’t or wouldn’t ever happen. I mean, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but I’ve learned that recovery comes in baby steps, and this is one giant baby step.’
Pokémon Go is certainly a fan favourite. It is extremely engaging and can be very addictive, especially for those who want to become ‘the very best, like no one ever was’. Most importantly, however, it gives people a reason to get up and get fit. What better motivation than potentially catching a Pokémon that is better than anyone else’s?
For those people who don’t really talk to people outside school or the office, it’s amazing how much of a community has already been created. It seems people are becoming really engaged with this game and communicating with other people; which is also great for people with mental health problems.
Personally, I loved playing Pokemon Go. By the end of the second day, I had racked up over 12km distance walked without even realising, and managed to capture over forty different types of Pokemon. I had hatched two eggs (eggs hatch when you have walked a certain distance, either 2km, 5km or 10km), and felt a lot better about myself for doing some exercise.
There are some noticeable problems, including massive battery drainage and consistent crashing; but this is to be expected from an app in its infancy. With updates surely around the corner, things can only get better.
Find out more on the Pokemon Go website.