Even if you’ve been living under a rock the past couple weeks, there’s a small chance you haven’t stumbled across the viral sensation that is Pokémon Go. Or perhaps you have stumbled across it and you’re utterly confused as to why it’s such a big deal. Maybe you’re just perplexed about the amount of zombie-like people wandering around parks, museums, monuments, and local businesses glued to their phones. Whether you consider yourself a world class Pokémon trainer or you’re not even sure you know what a Pokémon is, here’s what you need to know. Keep reading for 6 reasons as to why Pokémon Go is actually a really good thing.
1. It’s a nice break from other social media outlets.
Pokémon Go has gone viral. Whether or not you’re familiar with Pikachu and the other creatures that range from fiercely adorable to ferociously terrifying, you’ve probably noticed that more people than you thought possible are joining the “nerd world” of Pokémon.
Did you know, though, that the average Pokémon Go user spends significantly more time catching ‘em all than they spend on Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, or Instagram? Or that the app has been installed on over 10 million android devices? It’s pretty safe to say that people are joining the phenomenon at an astounding rate.
2. You can’t play it from your couch.
The game’s big selling point is the concept of “Augmented Reality” which requires users to get off their couch and venture out into the world in order to catch Pokémon. The creatures will appear nearby, and the user must take a guess at the location and walk until they get close enough for it to pop up on their screen.
They can then use their phone’s camera to “see” the creature materialized in the real world (which has of course led to all kinds of internet hilarity). In addition, certain aspects of the game are placed at real world locations that people must venture to if they want to conquer a local “gym” for their team or stock up on supplies at a “pokestop.” You can also find eggs at these locations and then place them in an incubator which will require you to walk a certain distance before it will hatch.
3. It’s bringing people together.
Because people have to get out into the world to play, they’re not just interacting anonymously and face-lessly online. They’re running into each other at gyms and pokestops and making connections. All kinds of people are able to share in the joy of catching pokemon together, and they don’t have to do it in isolation.
4. Although there are some risks, it has led to some important discoveries and has increased alert awareness.
A young girl stumbled upon a dead body in Wyoming, and there have been reports that teenagers used a “lure” module that attracts Pokémon and other players alike to a location, and proceeded to rob the players who showed up. Furthermore, there have been reports of traffic incidents related to drivers who were playing behind the wheel, which is just one example of people choosing an inappropriate place to chase down Pokémon (as the Holocaust museum has had to ask guests not to play the game at their exhibits). Hopefully these negative aspects can actually help raise awareness to anyone who is used to being glued to their cell phones.
5. It’s helping people who struggle with mental health and depression.
What? Yup, it’s true. There seem to be some very real, tangible, benefits for people, especially those who struggle with mental health. Of course, there’s no hard research yet, but various articles are currently circulating which highlight a number of testimonies from users who say that the game has helped them get out of bed, get out into the public, and follow a more normal routine.
The idea that a game that rewards seemingly-mundane activities (like taking a walk or going to a local coffee shop) actually benefits people’s mental health shouldn’t be surprising, as it’s those kinds of mundane things in life that depression and anxiety can latch on to.
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6. It provides an opportunity to engage in culture and history.
Despite the criticism over the game’s tendency to glue people to their phones, it seems that people are engaging in the world around them more often and more enthusiastically since the release of Pokémon Go. People were glued to their phones before, but at least now they’re outside and moving!
Not only are people getting off of their couches, but they’re finding themselves at all kinds of new places because of Pokémon Go. They’re going to monuments, museums, natural parks, local businesses, hiking trails– you name it. People are there. And they’re engaging in what the world has to offer.
As people find themselves exploring new areas, perhaps they’ll take their eyes off the screen for a moment, and they’ll learn about the history that surrounds them. They’ll open their ears and listen to the people around them. They’ll buy an ice cream at the local shop. They’ll find themselves enjoying all that’s around them. And even if they take their eyes off their screen for only a moment to realize where they are, they wouldn’t have had this opportunity beforehand. A glimpse of reality can resonate more than we might initially assume. After all, isn’t that the point of all this?
What are some other reasons Pokémon Go is actually a really good thing? Comment below and share this article with friends who love Pokémon Go as much as you know you do.
Featured image source: forbesimg.com, teenvogue.com
Rhys is a Music Therapy student at Ohio University. He sings in 3 choirs and an A Cappella group and can be found eating burritos, drinking coffee, or randomly and sometimes inappropriately bursting into song in public.