North Texas Daily

Pokemon Go is a healthy reason to catch them all

Pokemon Go is a healthy reason to catch them all

July 15
16:31 2016

Morgan Sullivan | Staff Writer


If you haven’t been living under a rock this past week, you’ll know that Pokemon Go is the new viral sensation. The game, which uses GPS location and augmented reality, has taken the country by storm. Although some would argue that the app is just another video game that makes you stare at your phone, Pokemon Go is actually improving users’ lives.

If you would’ve told me a week ago that I would be outside walking for miles in the Texas heat for enjoyment, I would’ve laughed at you. Most people would. It’s no secret that most of us southerners keep inside on sweltering summer days. It takes all that we’ve got to walk from the car to our front door without melting. Pokemon Go gave most users a reason to get out of the house, and for that, we should truly be thankful.

For some, Pokemon Go is a fun way to get their steps in, without noticing they’re exercising. To hatch an egg, you can’t be walking over 15 mph, which means users can’t cheat by driving. Some people think the game was a secret ploy by Michelle Obama in another attempt to combat childhood obesity. Despite those notions, there’s one thing we should all agree on: it’s good that kids (and adults) are out there trying to catch them all.

On top of the added physical exercise, perhaps the most important way that Pokemon Go is helping its users is how it aids those with mental illnesses. It’s no secret that physical activity helps with depression. Physical activity causes your body to release endorphins, which results in making people feel better. Summer can be hard for those with depression, as physical activity can cease to a halt due to the extreme outside temperatures. However, Vitamin D is also believed to aid anxiety and depression. Users catching their dose of sunrays can actually be improving their mental health.

For those with anxiety, especially social anxiety, making new friends can be extremely difficult. Pokemon Go takes out a lot of the awkwardness when making new friends. The app has brought together groups of people already. When you see another Pokemon trainer out in the wild, people want to share recent catches or tips to help one another out.

The game has created a community of people who go out in groups, searching far and wide for the most elusive Pokemon. Friendships have formed simply because players look in the same area. There may be critics out there, but this benefit is hard to ignore.

With Nintendo making Pokemon so accessible, the company invites an entirely new generation of fans. I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t too into Pokemon as a kid. I never seemed to have the gaming systems needed to play, and the trading cards weren’t my scene. I didn’t feel like Pokemon was convenient or accessible for me. The app changed this completely.

First of all, it’s free. There’s no expensive game to buy, no consoles to acquire. Anyone with a smartphone is able to download and play it easily. Many adults are downloading the game solely to see what the fuss is about.

When something is passed through multiple generations, it allows bonds to be formed. Imagine being able to do something with your entire family. From 7-year-olds to 70-year-olds, this app welcomes all people. It’s about bringing all of us together in a way that’s new and exciting.

The augmented reality technology is also now immensely accessible. For someone who doesn’t want to spend hundreds on a virtual reality headset, Pokemon Go is a bit of an alternative. Sure, it’s not exactly the same, but the app has created an new, interactive opportunity to reignite a classic brand. It’s changed the way that games can be played. The lines between reality and gaming are blurring right before our eyes.

It’s been a while since anything has swept pop culture quite like this. Within days of its launch, Pokemon Go was downloaded more than Twitter and Facebook. Those who don’t understand it will continue with the “technology is ruining lives” rhetoric. If you really have a problem with people playing a video game, you might want to ask yourself why you care so much. Let people have fun. As scary as the world is right now, Pokemon Go is a little escape from all of that.

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