The unbelievably successful resurgence of the worldwide Pokemon craze, which started in the late 90s and peaked again in the early 2000s, has left many of us with our jaws on the ground.
It’s one thing to see strangers hunched over their phones and huddling in groups in random places, everywhere, but who knew capturing virtual creatures would improve the wellbeing of millions of gamers globally?
As it turns out, racing around the neighbourhood trying to “catch em’ all” is helping to improve players’ physical and mental health, especially those who don’t usually spend a lot of time outdoors.
Virtual game turned fitness app
Most of the health benefits have been linked to the fact Pokemon Go has simply got gamers moving and as experts say walking is one of the best forms of exercise around.
Triple J’s Hack program investigated the phenomenon of the augmented reality game becoming an incidental fitness app.
Doctor Greg Wadley is a lecturer in computer science at University of Melbourne who specialises in technology for mental health and wellbeing. He explained to Hack’s reporters, as well as walking, the game also forces people to engage with other fans which is good for their brains.
“If you’re outside the state library and 10 other people are all catching Pokemon, you’ve got something to talk about,” he said.
Through his research Dr Wadley has also found the act of game playing alone can improve a person’s mental health.
“That way of taking a break and letting the mind think about something different is better than smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol which is what lot of people do to de-stress,” he said
Not that Pokemon Go fans need any additional encouragement. Am I right?
But, they do need to look where they’re going.
“Don’t Pokemon and drive”: RACQ
Police have been called as a result of this game because enthralled gamers have accidentally wandered (trespassed) into people’s backyards searching for Charmanders and the like. Yes, that actually happened. .
But one of the biggest concerns from authorities is people putting themselves in danger when playing Pokemon Go because they’re not paying attention to their surroundings.
Their message is to just look where you’re going and try not to do things like wander into oncoming traffic, even if “it’s a really good one”.
The RACQ also recently released a statement about drivers attempting to catch Pokemon behind the wheel.
“Whether it’s Pokemon, Facebook or texting, they are all symptoms of a problem that we need to deal with,” spokesperson Paul Turner said.
“It’s costing lives, it’s causing massive congestion issues because of the crashes.
“We’re not saying don’t play the game, but we are saying don’t play the game while you’re driving.”