Pokémon Go launched in the UK last month, and with more downloads than Tinder and more average daily users than Twitter, it’s safe to say the world has been taken over by pocket monster hunters.
With GPS tracking – to play the game – Pokémon Go requires you get out and about. On your travels Pokémon appear at random with the ability to switch to augmented reality (AR) in order to ‘catch them’ by swiping Pokéballs at the creatures. Pokéstops exist to supply players with Pokéballs and various game play items, which are located at diverse landmarks and places of interest.
In forcing players to explore their surroundings the game encourages physical activity as well as pro-social behaviour. Already there are incidences of some people with autism benefiting from the game as it gets individuals out of their homes, and facilitates social interaction with other players. Similar benefits can be had by those who suffer with social anxiety. Plus, Pokémon Go could help those with symptoms of depression through encouraging positive environmental reinforcement and motivation to progress through the games levels.
Whilst physical activity rewards many, those with mobility impairments are at a disadvantage for this very reason. If you live with a disability or chronic illness, check out Tania Talks guide – Pokémon Go Disability Hacks, here: http://linkis.com/whentaniatalks.com/vWCo5
Previous research into video games reports visuospatial cognition advantages, as well as certain negative effects such as problems with social information processing, namely recognising emotions of others such as anger or happiness. Other disadvantages include an intentional bias to game related cues which is predominantly violent stimuli, however, the battles that occur in Pokémon Go are between inoffensive creatures like no other, and previous research suggests unrealistic graphics makes increases in aggressive behaviour an unlikely side effect.
Pokémon Go is fun, provides achievable goals, boosts physical activity and social contact, however it is important to remember to play in moderation and as the landing page warning stipulates, stay aware of your surroundings and avoid risky areas.