When Pokémon Go was released in the United States, the estimated number of players who daily used the augmented reality program, not virtual reality, was around 21 million people, as reported by Redbull.com. That number quickly doubled to 45 million users making Pokémon Go the most “popular mobile game in U.S. history.” It’s estimated that globally, there are nearly 200 million people who take the namesake of the game to physically move and “GO” very seriously. Players walk, cycle, run, bend and stretch their bodies and minds gathering in parks and Pokestops to capture Pidgeys, winged bats and Dragonites, ad infinitum. For the Pokémon Go faithful, the competitive nature of the game requires a much deeper understanding of its underlying strategy and technique. Grasping the technical components is a brain exercise in itself.
Two decades ago, Dr. John Grohol founded an internet social network specifically designed for mental health needs called Psych Central. He’s been at the forefront of researching how technology impacts mental health. Engadget.com reports that Dr. Grohol believes the benefits of playing Pokémon Go are especially beneficial to those suffering from depression or anxiety disorders:
” . . .if you’re depressed, your motivation level is nonexistent,” he explains. “So, you want to go out and get some fresh air, or even take a shower, and it can be a very difficult thing to even comprehend, much less do. . .”
Because Pokémon Go is a game, not a therapy, says Dr. Grohol, participation can help get people outside and become more active. That was certainly the case for Toronto resident and Pilates instructor Angela Barsotti. Mcleans.ca reports that Barsotti believed that playing Pokémon Go, and alternative medicine, would be able to assist her in overcoming “her overwhelming habit of slot” she developed after a concussion.
At first, Barsotti did have concerns about the dangers of the game. It’s true that a small number of players have been so engrossed in the imaginary world, that they died in the real one. But she decided to give Pokémon Go a try. She quickly discovered that the game encouraged her to “walk one more block” or perhaps an extra mile to another hotspot. In time, Barsotti’s eyes and skin became clearer, her “liveliness” increased and she was feeling better than she had in months. Since her initial game time, she’s walked over 400 kilometers and her sleeping schedule has improved. Pokémon GO made the difference.
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