Could Pokémon GO Help in the Fight Against Obesity?
Pokémon Go has recently released, and people all over the world have joined in on the Pokémon catching fun. They’re getting out of the house and walking or driving around, doing all they can to be the very best and catch ’em all. The release has been so successful that Nintendo even saw an 8% increase in stock value, which is absolutely insane. However, while everyone has been out and about I’ve simply been wondering: is this part of the cure for the obesity epidemic that is devastating a large portion of the world?
For decades, video games have been demonized for keeping people and children indoors, stuck in fantasy worlds that don’t necessarily contribute to society. With virtual reality rolling into most middle-class homes in the next year or two, this might only get worse. Who wants to leave the house for anything but work, when you can put on a headset and transport yourself to an alternate reality where the laws of physics and chemistry are what we make them?
“We need to move, and games like Pokémon Go can make sure we do.”
While I’m not the biggest fan of VR (at least not in the beginner stages), I do believe heavily in the advantages that come with augmented reality, or AR. The number of people currently playing Pokémon Go – which is sort of like AR-lite – has only cemented my beliefs that this could be the key to keeping us as a species healthy and reasonably fit. We need to move, and games like Pokémon Go can make sure we do.
A recent study revealed that an obese child will cost the health care system a staggering 60% more on average. With growing rates of obesity across the world, that’s a scary figure, let alone the health risks associated with being so overweight as well. If we can’t get people to change their diet, then getting them to at least get up and walk around is a step in the right direction. Regardless of your size or activity level, getting regular exercise is crucial to a healthy lifestyle. Many studies have shown that walking regularly reduces the risk of coronary disease and osteoporosis, two big problems in the ageing population.
It’s incredible how many people of all ages have already gotten out of the house more this week than they have all summer. Currently, social media is covered in posts from people of all ages and backgrounds, going out in search of their favourite pocket monsters. Everywhere you turn, there are mentions of finding a Lapras or Pikachu, becoming a gym champion, or someone trying to figure out how to get the APK file so they can hurry up and get out there.
“The power to shape the world really does lie in the form of technology, and Pokémon Go easily proves that we can be goaded into experiencing life through that tech.”
If AR can continue in this vein, imagine the possibilities. Pokémon Go is an early indicator that people are more than willing to become active if it means they get some sort of digital reward for their efforts. If Nintendo ever decides to improve the current experience to make training and battling more important, they could easily then go the e-sport route, holding tournaments with real prizes. There are so many people out now, I’m sure the number of users would explode if actual cash prizes were at stake.
This seems to be a great beginning to what could be a gaming revolution; something that mixes real world activity with digital pets. If training became more of a prevalent feature, it would be easy to mix in other forms of activity to keep you and your Pokémon fit. When it comes to keeping people stuck in feedback loops, performing mindless tasks over and over again, nothing does it better than video games. Striving to reach that next level is always motivating, now we just need to apply it to something basic we could do in our day to day lives.
It’s kind of crazy, but the power to shape the world really does lie in the form of technology, and Pokémon Go easily proves that we can be goaded into experiencing life through that tech. It’s a shame that the world has gotten so “boring” to many that this is needed to get us moving, but it might just be the next big thing that keeps everyone on their toes. As long as it works, I’m fine with that.