The Pokémon Company’s latest accomplishment, Pokémon GO, has taken the country by storm. As is the case with most of the games contributed to the Pokémon legacy, the newest game is riddled with underlying, real-life perks and copious consequential mental health benefits.
Released just over a week ago, the game has already conjured a tidal wave of interest from the country’s social psychology community. The mental health implications of the gameplay in Pokémon GO are far too numerous to simply ignore.
Social media sources like Twitter and Facebook are blazing like wildfire with talk of Niantic’s gigantic success. Though official studies of the game’s mental health effects have not yet had time to brew, the players are clear in their expressions. Pokémon GO helps people get to the business of living.
It is a readily known fact that regular physical activity is good for the mind and body. Expect to see stories about how Pokémon GO changed lives through weight loss. Expect to see reports of the game alleviating chronic symptoms of depression and anxiety. The game is by no means a “fix-all,” but there are clearly many healthy habits to be absorbed while immersing in the Augmented Reality (or AR) gameplay.
Pokémon GO requires Trainers (aka players) to do just as the name suggests — Go! It is very difficult to progress in the game without going somewhere. Unless a person were to specifically try to avoid daylight, playing this game will result in the player being subjected to increased levels of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D plays an integral role in maintaining healthy bones, but it is good for a few other things in the body. When the body is deficient in Vitamin D, many other physical and mental issues can arise. Low Vitamin D in the body has been linked to Alzheimer’s, a higher risk for the development of Diabetes, and even an elevated risk of catching the flu. No individual person would be in a very healthy mind space while experiencing any part of those possibilities.
A healthy dosage of sunlight per day for the average adult/child has been estimated to be at least 10 minutes per day. Pokémon Trainers always play for more than 10 minutes when they are on the hunt.
Social interaction is one of the major components necessary for the development of a healthy sense of self and a well-rounded perspective. In a largely electronic age, kids and adults are equally horrible at old-fashioned face-to-face communication. Pokémon GO encourages its players to communicate with one another regularly. Facebook groups and team enthusiasts are meeting and conversing daily on the matters of gym domination and Pokémon evolutions.
Another interesting social aspect of the game that should be brought to light is the proverbial melting pot of people playing the game. This is not just a child’s game. Pokémon has been around for several generations, and its players are extremely loyal. This dynamic sets the stage for multifaceted social interactions. It is not simply one demographic of people who are participating in the phenomenon.
Cognitive mapping is a pertinent skill needed for survival. Basically, the mind makes mental maps of landmarks and geographical features to gain a full perspective of one’s surrounding environment. The concept is clearly demonstrated when laboratory rats learn a certain route through a maze to find a centrally located reward.
— UCLASemelFriends (@UCLASemelFriend) July 24, 2016
As game enthusiasts progress, they will build their own unique cognitive map of each Poké Stop or Poké Gym. They will regularly exercise their brain’s fragile connections and maintain a higher level of mental agility. Not to mention, they will never truly be lost (the game is a walking GPS).
[Image via APStock]