Video games that successfully combine physical activity with fun are exactly what our sedentary society needs, and if you’ve played Pokemon Go, you know how well this combination works. Pokemon Go is a game for your smart phone that incorporates real world maps and locations into hunting for Pokemon, evolving those Pokemon, then battling them with others at local spots.
I’ve been playing Pokemon Go since it landed in Canada about a week ago and have found the step count on my Fitbit getting higher and higher because I’m constantly leaving the house, with baby in tow, to go find Pokemon to add to my ever-growing collection.
I hear people complaining that their kids spend too much time playing “that stupid Pokemon game,” but at the same time, these kids are outside, walking around, discovering their town, meeting new people, and making new friends. Yes, this game can be played poorly, and a lot of the news lately is giving it a bad rep. I’ve heard of people nearly getting in car accidents because others are playing Pokemon Go while driving, kids walking onto private property to catch Pokemon, and even people walking off steep cliff-sides to catch rare Pokemon. Seriously though, it’s a game – you can easily play it without doing anything illegal or dangerous.
How does Pokemon Go promote physical activity?
In Pokemon Go, your objective is to find Pokemon, which are creatures that have various powers and abilities, that can battle other Pokemon in your name. To catch Pokemon, you throw Pokeballs at them, and with luck, you’ll catch them on the first try. When you run out of Pokeballs, you have the option of paying real world money to buy some, or simply walking to a Pokestop (at a physical location) and picking some up for free. Pokestops are indicated on your in-game map in Pokemon Go, and simply going to them, and clicking on the Pokestop will give you goodies. Eventually, you’ll catch enough Pokemon that are high levels, and you can go to a Pokemon Gym (again, a physical location on your map) to battle other Pokemon (owned by other people). You also get eggs in the game, which will not hatch unless you walk while carrying them. (I have an egg that won’t hatch until I’ve walked 10km. It better be a good Pokemon inside!)
Three screenshots of Pokemon Go showing the zoomed out map of my area (sadly, all the Pokestops and gyms are nowhere near me), the zoomed in map with a Pokemon, and the third screen shows the eggs I can hatch by walking the amount indicated.
This isn’t just a game for kids. This is a fun game about exploration that you can play with friends, co-workers, or your kids. It’s an app that gamifies physical activity, and it’s a lot more fun and rewarding than spending time on a treadmill. It’s also a perfect match to the name of this blog: Healthy Level Up! So go put on your sneakers and go find Pikachu!
Have you played Pokemon Go? Are you finding yourself getting more exercise because of it? Or are you someone who hasn’t played it… yet. It’s really only a matter of time. Let me know in the comments below!