Pokémon Go Has Tricked You Into Being Happy

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Pokémon Go has already been downloaded 75 million times worldwide, and is undisputedly the highlight of this summer. Although Pokémon Go might, at first sight, appear to be just another game, it’s not! For those of you Charizards (a rare Pokémon) who haven’t heard of the virtual reality app, the aim is to catch Pokémon and hatch eggs. This is done by going outside to find the creatures, and by walking. We’ve essentially been tricked into exercising. But more than that, we are talking to one another, trying to help fellow Poké trainers to catch ‘em all! The exercise combined with socialising has made a huge impact on players: they’re happier and it shows.


Exercising makes you release endorphins, which are hormones triggering happiness. [a2] Many have noted that Pokémon Go is a much more effective for exercising than fitness tools like Fitbit etc. Perhaps because it's just a lot more fun to exercise for the love of Pokémon, than for the love of imaginary abs. Moreover, a study shows that it takes three months on average for people to get bored of fitness apps. But Pokémon Go is not a fitness app!

Most people have the tools to get fit, but not the motivation, which is what Pokémon Go indirectly provides. The health benefits of Pokémon Go happen without the players realising it, and they get to see that small changes really can make a big difference. This can, in turn, entice the Poké trainers to walk to work, or take the stairs instead of the elevator. But it’s not only adults that should be getting healthier.

Summer is definitely the busiest time for couch potato kids to catch up on daytime television. Pokémon Go is a great tool to combat childhood obesity, which as Jamie Oliver and Michelle Obama emphasises, is an increasing problem today. With Pokémon Go, many kids are exercising without even knowing it, and they’re having a blast too.

All this walking has made many closed off gamers leave their houses and talk to people face-to-face. Clinical assistant professor Dr. Hoffman, argues that the game encourages two positive predictors of mental health: social interaction and activity. Playing a lot of video games isolates a person from others which can be linked to depression and anxiety. These mental illnesses make it challenging to gather the motivation to get outside. Pokémon Go has provoked these game fanatics to leave their Dungeons and Dragons, to exercise and socialise. For once, social media isn’t full of scandalous tweets or what your neighbour had for lunch, but stories of how Pokémon Go has improved general health and in turn, boosted happiness.

It has also lead to a lot of unexpected social interactions, as fellow players help each other catch Pokémon. US home care provider Nurse Next Door encouraged their senior patients to play the game for them to feel a greater sense of community and to exercise and socialise. One of their clients, 73-year-old Sue Sparin said: “It’s actually quite fun. I was talking to a fellow the other day with green hair and lots of piercings and I never would’ve talked to him before that.” This goes to show that it's an ageless game, and that we could all use a little unprecedented socialisation.

Another positive thing to come out of the phenomenon is the booming success of the app Charity Miles. Created prior to Pokémon Go, they have noted a huge surge since the release. Founder Miles Gene Gurkoff said, “we got a big surge over the weekend, and we couldn’t really understand what was going on. And then we realized this must be people from Pokémon Go.” The app raises money for charity by tracking a user’s physical activity. They donate $25 cents for every mile you walk and $10 cents per mile you bike.

Pokémon Go players are feeling and looking great, but take note that Pokémon Go isn't a substitute for professional treatment. Obesity, depression, or anxiety should be managed by health professionals. Nevertheless, Pokémon Go has shown to alleviate obstacles and boost morale. It’s accomplished a butterfly effect of positive things, so even if we’ve all been tricked into being happy, nobody’s complaining.



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