Other than the recent tragic shootings, and social unrest which I talked about in a previous blog #YourLifeMatters, Pokemon GO has been the next most popular topic on my Facebook timeline.
People loving it, or hating on the people that love it.
So a quick recap for those who live in caves (you can skip this part if you play it)….Basically, Pokemon Go is a free app for ios and android that meshes the real and virtual worlds together. It uses your phone’s GPS, clock, and gyroscope to determine where in the real world you are, and will place little creatures near your location for you to catch. It also makes some real world locations points of interest in the game, that you can travel to in the real world, to battle, or collect prizes in the game.
So the “world” of the game is actually the real world around you and in order to “explore” the world of the game you have to get off of your ass, go outside, and walk around.
In the game I look like this, standing here.
While in real time, I look like this, standing here. (notice the similarities)
I for one think this integration of virtual and real-world is genius. In the past, game systems like the Nintendo Wii, with it’s Wii sports and dance games,
meshed moving your body, with the fun and reward-factors of playing a game. However, Pokemon Go takes this to the next level by:
- Making it free and accessible on a device that millions of people already have with them everyday
- Making it literally and entire world. You can explore any parts of the city at any times to see what new things you might discover.
- It gives incentive for you to complete certain fitness goals. like I can’t hatch this egg until I’ve walked or jogged 10km..that’s over 6 miles!
So let’s get down to the health pros and cons.
PRO — it will get the nerds (you) off of the couch!
As I mentioned above, the game is essentially pointless unless you get out and about. You won’t get the distance incentives if you’re moving faster than running speed, (driving in your car) and it can actually make you challenge yourself.
I’ll admit it. when I run, I usually run a certain route around my neighborhood that’s about 2.5 miles (I’m not a “runner”). When I downloaded Pokemon Go I had an egg that required me to walk 5k to open it. So I ran a longer route that day because I wanted to see what was in that egg! (an oddish :/)
It actually incentivised me to go a little longer and discover a new, longer route in my area. So the next time I run I’ll feel like I’m cheating myself if I take the shorter route again.
CON — It’s another tech distraction! And you might Die!
2 adult men fell off of a cliff in San Diego. While playing Pokemon Go.
A girl wandered onto a highway and was hit by a car. Playing Pokemon Go.
The game opens with a warning to mind your surroundings but still!
OK OK ill admit it. I was running. I hit an uneven part of the sidewalk and fell and skinned my knee trying to catch a stupid “Pidgey” while jogging!! Would I have seen the uneven sidewalk even if I wasn’t playing? Who knows, but still the fact remains.
Looking down at your phone while walking or running can be dangerous to your health.
Also, what’s the point of getting out into the world if you’re not going to take in all of it’s wonders!?
“oh I went for a 3 mile walk and looked around a few times”…not ideal. But hey people are moving so what can I say?
PRO — It can help build positive associations with exercise!
If you had fun instead of feeling like you suffered the last time you were active, you’re more likely to want to get active again.
A lot of people’s problem is that the DRAG themselves to the gym and SUFFER through a workout and leave feeling like they just went through torture.
So when it’s time to go back they think of the way they felt leaving the gym the last time, and eventually they’ll find an excuse not to go. over and over again. Because they have these negative associations with the gym and working out.
Pokemon GO is able to use the reward and excitement factors of play to make you feel even better about getting active!
CON — It can become a crutch!
Conversely, if you only want to get active when playing a game, then you will inevitably not be consistent. What if your phone is dead? Or the server is “experiencing problems” (again!) or it’s raining.
Incentive to get active is good. But it fails as a motivator when it becomes a crutch and you need your “thing’ to get you going each time.
It’s better to have an actual mind-set shift and use other less tech-bound sources of motivation!
CON — you might get robbed!
Enough said. Getting robbed is bad for your health and could be fatal. You gotta look around and be aware!
CON — you might look like an idiot!
or at least very confused and in need of some assistance.
The game can be a bit Laggy. So if you’re really trying to be active and say, jog, and then the game lags as you’re passing a pokestop, or when a pokemon pops up, then you have to turn around,slow down, or make frequent stops, and/or do other strange things that will make onlookers wonder what the heck is wrong with you.
I’ll admit it, Again.
I was trying to use a Pokestop as I jogged by a building. The app froze but I really wanted to use that Pokestop. I also wanted to keep moving, because I was jogging and also playing Pokemon, not playing Pokemon and also jogging, you get it?
So I turned around and jogged the way I had just come from until the app restarted, and then turned back around to go to that stop again. I’m sure I looked like an idiot. And I’m pretty sure that somehow that’s bad for your health.
But seriously, if you are trying to get a solid workout in, all of the slowing and stopping can affect the quality of that workout session. I have become somewhat of a master in catching Pokemon in full-stride. But the lags are unpredictable.
PRO — It will awaken your curiosity!
Since installing Pokemon GO, I’ve been extra curious about what other Pokemon or supplies I might find if I take a side-street, or run another route instead of my old-faithful. It’s made me want to explore more and that’s a huge pro! It will get your brain and curiosity going in new ways and that is excellent for your health. As long as you don’t get robbed or die.
Wow. So i guess I feel like there’s more cons than pros in terms of your health. It’s awesome at getting people on the go, but the risks and downsides may outweigh the upside in the long term.
As long as you are being active and playing Pokemon go, not getting active just to play Pokemon go I think it’s a benefit overall.
It is a great way to get up and out there, moving your body and generating those feel-good endorphins. And it is a nice preview for what is to come in the future when it comes to meshing health and fitness with good new-fashioned virtual fun.
I do enjoy the game although I will be deleting it soon because I doubt i’ll ever play it often enough to get very strong. I really only play it when I go out to jog and I’m currently out of Poke-balls. I mean, 100 candy to evolve my monster? I’ll never catch that many of the same Pokemon! And I’ve only seen 3 Charmanders so far…how will I ever evolve him to Charizard? It’s hopeless.
Great things are on the horizon for you. Please pray for our nation. Until next blog.
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Also published on Medium.