Pokémon Gets You GOing

By Matthew Castillo, Intern, Care New England Marketing Communications

Since its release on July 6, 2016, Nintendo and Niantic Incorporated’s Pokémon GO has garnered a following greater than any game of its type has ever seen. Here is a brief list of Pokémon GO’s achievements (according to Forbes* and direct data taken from Android):

  • Has more daily active users than Twitter on Android.
  • Has more usage time than Instagram, Snapchat, and WhatsApp.
  • Was installed by 10.8 percent of the Android using population in the U.S. alone.

According to CNBC.com, the game’s success has bolstered stock in Nintendo by more than 25 percent and adding $7.5 billion to its market value. The benefits don’t only extend to the business side of the venture, however. Pokémon GO’s system is an amazing tool to get people of all ages active. While the concept itself has been tried before, a game that incorporates moving throughout the real world has never met with such success. With many games being sedentary, Pokémon GO provides an appealing option for those who may normally not get much exercise.

Since the game takes place in an augmented version of the real world, key locations are spread far and wide, making it necessary for players to exercise to reach these places.

Consider a GPS in a car, which tracks where your car moves and gives you directions to your destination. In Pokémon GO, there is a GPS but no directions, only Pokémon to find and “gyms” to conquer. The game is played like this:

  • The GPS places your avatar on the map.

  • You move through the world and Pokémon appear to be captured. The only way to find new and unique Pokémon characters, however, is by exploring new places.

  • The GPS shows specific creatures in areas best suited to their environments. Grass Pokémon, for example, may appear in a meadow, while Water Pokémon at a beach.

  • The GPS tracks your speed if it senses you are driving. You earn no progress. Walking/jogging is a must. You are also given Pokémon eggs that will only hatch after you walk a certain distance.

  • You can stop at landmarks known as “Pokestops” or “Pokémon Gyms” to battle or collect items to help you capture or train new Pokémon.

The need to walk and hunt for a Pokémon adds healthy activity to your daily routine. Research has shown that walking can help to decrease your chance of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Besides the physical benefit, there is the social aspect. The concept is simple enough for all ages to understand and you can spend quality time with family and friends trying to find that special Pokémon. Previously unpopulated landmarks (Pokestops) are bustling with aspiring Pokémon hunters of all ages working towards their next big catch. Some are dubbed a “Pokémon Gym” and players can select one of three teams to battle over a gym. This idea adds a healthy level of competition to a game that could otherwise be an individual experience.

In essence, players must actively search and explore their neighborhoods, often in groups, to find new Pokémon to help their team. With the game’s massive player base, players usually meet others and form new friendships over their shared interest, which leads to positive social and mental benefit.

*Erik Kain, ‘Pokémon GO’ Is More Than Just A Game And It’s Bringing People Together,