Since the release of Pokémon GO for smartphones Thursday, the augmented reality game, which uses GPS to display characters roaming in your real world, has become a global phenomenon.
When you walk around your streets, the app shows you your surroundings and Pokémon characters are lurking around ready to be caught. Players can also grab useful items for their team at real locations, like a bus stop, park bench, or other landmark.
1) You end up getting a LOT of exercise
Nintendo built this game to get people off the couch. For one thing, you have to walk a certain distance to hatch incubated eggs that will turn into Pokémon. If you are in a car, it doesn’t work. The game tracks your movement using GPS, and includes a speed limit that only allows slow biking or walking to hatch your eggs.
One fan tweeted famously that Pokémon GO did more to boost exercise levels in one weekend than Michelle Obama achieved in eight years.
2) You get exposed to historical and artistic landmarks
Besides just walking around looking for Pokémon, gamers can visit PokéStops, locations marked in-game by blue squares which allow you to gather in-game items — such as Eggs, Poké Balls, Potions, and more. PokéStops are usually cultural landmarks of some sort. These can include things like public art, murals and sculptures, unique architecture, and historical landmarks.
Anath Sheridan wrote on Quora, “I’ve already found several murals and buildings I didn’t know existed.”
3) You run into old friends—and make new ones
Kids who used to play the original Gameboy Pokémon together are bumping into each other as adults, years later, as they gather in parks, near churches and schools hunting around PokéStops. In the app, each player is on a team (red or blue, for instance) and, especially if they’ve chosen the same team, friendships rekindle as they start walking around together. A more common benefit is meeting new friends. It is instantaneous how conversations start—and new relationships might be hatching just like Poké eggs.
4) Local businesses are benefiting from new customers
Thousands of businesses across the country discovered they had become part of Pokémon GO, and some are reaping the benefit. ComicBook.com explains, “Reactions to the sudden uptick in business ranged from bemused to annoyance, but Pokémon GO does represent a unique opportunity for some businesses, especially those that rely on walk up traffic, to make money.”
If your business is the site of a PokéStop or near to one, you can get the app and activate a Lure that can be seen on the maps of nearby players, alerting them to the increased amount of Pokemon in an area. Some businesses are also offering discounts for players that catch a Pokémon on site, or have a rare Pokémon they can show off. If you don’t want your business to be a part of Pokemon GO, you can submit a request on Niantic Labs site to remove your location from the game.
5) It is already helping people with depression
It makes sense when you think about it. Exercise is one of the best remedies for depression. Downloading the game has given people a new love for life.
Pokemon Go is literally making people with depression and anxiety and agoraphobia leave the house and explore the world and socialise.— Yo! (@jasonjarmoosh) July 8, 2016
6) You might just save someone’s life
Jeanette Warner, a mom in Buckeye, Arizona, spent much of the weekend playing the new game with her family. When visiting a nearby park she saw a young boy fall over from heat exhaustion after being bullied by two older boys, who were making him do sprints without water. After the bullies left, the boy tried to ride his bike into the desert, but couldn’t muster the strength. Warner called 911 and told KPHO-TV, “He fell face first into the rocks.”
NOTE of CAUTION: There are a couple downsides to this scavenger hunt adventure. Even though the company’s CEO says the game includes only public places considered “safe” for pedestrians, he urges people to play in groups.
There are times, though, when a spot might not be safe even for a group. At least one robbery has been reported in connection with Pokémon GO. Suspects in Missouri were arrested for stealing phones and wallets at one of the PokéStops from a group of teens.
It’s important in this game to be aware of what’s going on around you. When the app is opened, it launches with a warning message for users to keep their wits about them. And, most definitely don’t drive while looking at the screen. Help Your Friends Catch This!