Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Nintendo released its smartphone app, PokemonGo, on Thursday July 7th. If you don’t know what that is, it’s an app where people can join and collect fictitious Japanese cartoon creatures with special abilities. It combines a digital experience of bird-watching, geocaching, trophy-hunting and for the generation I grew up in, some nostalgia for the late 1990’s and elementary school games.
If you’ve seen groups of people out and about, glued to their smartphones, it hasn’t been for text messages, Facebook or for e-mails… it’s been to catch these creatures with what they call “PokeBalls”, similar to the smallest digital ski ball game ever made. Unlike other IOS, android, computer and handheld console games, this particular game makes the user go outside in the world, walk to and from GPS location hotspots to make advances in the game.
People who never used to get much physical activity playing video games are now getting more exercise than ever!
From personal experience, I downloaded the game the morning after it came out. My boyfriend and I went out, found a hub of what they call Pokestops, became engulfed in the game and ended up walking 30+ miles over the duration of the weekend to hatch Pokemon eggs!
The average gamer, if they work a full-time job, can spend about 35-40 hours a week sitting in front of a screen, if not more. Any medical journal, textbook or study can confirm how detrimental to the physical fitness of any human body that can be. Based on the recent studies done of those who sit for long periods of time, research shows that it contributes to risks of heart attack, stroke, and metabolic syndrome. Sitting decreases life expectancy increases the size of your booty (even though it's probably already bootylicious) and slows your metabolism.
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine recently found that “adults who sat 11 or more hours per day had a 40% increased risk of dying in the next three years compared with those who sat for fewer than four hours a day. This was after taking into account their physical activity, weight and health status.”
Given the nature of our work environments and the nature of the gamer’s ideal surroundings, there is very often little that can be changed or even would want to be changed. My boyfriend is a fan of sitting at his computer for roughly six hours after work. Including the 8 he spends at work as well as the hour to and fro commute he spends sitting in his car, that’s 14 hours sedentary a day.
This new app has revolutionized the gamer’s lack of fitness in their routine and has, since Thursday, turned their proverbial wind-up key in order to get them moving again – all while providing intrinsically motivating rewards through the app itself! The more you walk, the more poke eggs you can hatch, thus you have more and more of the creatures!
The eggs require you to walk (so no cheating by using a car!) to hatch these eggs, varying in distances of 2km, 5km, and 10km. That's anywhere from just over a mile to over six!
Not only is it rewarding for fitness, but the users are able to connect and interact face to face socially with other gamers.
During the most recent times of extreme dissension in the media about violence and civil issues, the world has seemed in desperate need of something positive. Not only has Nintendo provided us with a game, it's done so with positive benefits of fitness AND social reconstruction.
With the app, we’ve been able to come back to the positivity of unifying the human interaction.
Instead of worrying about being judged for being "nerds", many users are feeling comfort in knowing that there's something bigger at hand here – having a love of something that brings people together instead of daily tribulations that are attempting to tear us apart.