There has been a lot of speculation on the internet about the location-based, augmented reality mobile game, Pokémon Go, as to whether it is a distraction or something to be cheerful about.
Personally, I like the game.
I downloaded it a couple of weeks ago (on July 18th to be precise) after its official Canadian release. Soon, I found myself catching Pokémons each day during my commute, lunch break, and time after work. I even went to the Pokémon launch party at the Toronto CN Tower where thousands of Pokémon goers and families gathered around to play. My colleagues at work are part of the excitement and talk about their catches, and what Pokémons they have encountered throughout the city.
I’m surprised how advanced our technology has become: where this fictional world can be integrated into our reality, enabling us to catch Pokémons in real-time—something that I only dreamt of doing as a child.
Despite the news about the potential dangers of playing the game, for the most part, I’ve seen so much good come out of it. Here are my reasons:
More people are getting exercise and exploring different places.
This game is encouraging people to go outside, go for walks, and explore different parts of the their city or neighbourhood that they have not yet discovered. For myself, I’ve discovered the church by the Eaton Centre mall, in downtown Toronto, which I wouldn’t have known existed if it weren’t for this game—despite walking past this area each day during my commute. I also find myself walking quite a bit now (like going on three to five kilometre walks) because of this game, which is now a part of my daily exercise.
The game is helping people form new relationships.
Players are also striking up conversations and forming new relationships as they find other players along their Pokémon journey. Whether there is a lure party going on—where people congregate at a Pokémon hot spot or a “Poké-date” (an alternative to regular dating), people are coming out of their shell thanks to Pokémon Go.
Pokémon Go has been reported to help players with depression.
Because this game encourages people to take more walks, this has also proven beneficial for those who are combating depression. Many users have tweeted on their social media how this game has helped with their anxiety and depression.
Small businesses are driving more traffic to their store.
Small businesses are also benefiting from this hype by encouraging players to visit them for discounts, free Wi-Fi, charging stations, and/or other incentives. As well, with Pokéstop and Lures, an in-app purchase that draws Pokémons to a certain Pokéstop, businesses are also taking advantage of this feature to lure players to their location. For instance, according to Bloomberg, a local pizza restaurant in New York spent approximately $10 on Lure Modules and saw food and drink sales spike by more than 30 percent in one weekend.
For many millennials (including myself), this game is bringing back sweet childhood memories. I found myself watching the old shows again over the weekend, remembering this happy time in my life when I watched Pokémon, collected Pokémon cards, and even threw a Pokémon themed party for my ninth birthday.
This game spreads happiness and excitement.
In spite of there being serious matters happening in the world that we should pay attention to, this doesn’t mean that people who play Pokémon Go are unproductive with their lives. Pokémon Go may seem silly for those who have not yet hopped aboard the bandwagon; for many others, it has become one of the highlights of their summer. The positive effect this game has on people is contagious—as happiness is something that spreads and is worth fighting for.
If Mindfulness Were Pokémon Go.
Author: Catherine Chea
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
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