And I have been playing A LOT OF IT - and I feel better for it.
I’ve been playing Pokémon Go again.
Recently, Pokémon Go received a pretty substantial update, appealing to players who were struggling with direction by incorporating a new quest-like system called Research. These short term objectives—found in the form of Field Research and Special Research—allow players to progress through a narrative of sorts, and unlock all sorts of rewards (including special Pokémon).
So far, legendary and mythic Pokémon could only be unlocked by players using the Raids system. Raids are special, timed battles that happen at Gym locations, where a group of players need to fight a particularly strong Pokémon for the opportunity to catch it. This makes it much more difficult for players in regional and rural areas to succeed at unlocking these special Pokémon—I’ve been staring at nearby Latias raids for weeks but have never seen another trainer at these gyms when I attempt to participate in the raid, making these completely inaccessible for me.
But now I have a Zapdos! I unlocked my Zapdos—nicknamed Nines—by catching certain Pokémon, hatching eggs, walking a bunch, spinning PokéStops, and otherwise interacting with the game system to meet the Research objectives.
The best part about this is that it appeals more to the players who want to walk around—engaging in the health and wellbeing benefits of Pokémon Go—than those who want to train their Pokémon to be the best fighters and lurk near Pokémon Gyms. Many of the physical and mental benefits of Pokémon Go are still being researched, and are tied to the game’s encouragement of both moving around and having social, face-to-face interactions with other players.
In a preliminary study of the benefits of Pokémon Go, it was found that 44% of regular players (using a sample of 157 participants) engage in more than usual physical activity, 13% lose weight, 25% feel an improved sense of wellbeing, and 23% changed their social behaviour. The statistics around this changed social behaviour is also interesting; of those who reported changes, 85% said that they had spoken to more unfamiliar people and 77% reported spending more time with friends (American Psychiatric Association (APA) 2018. Poster P5-154, presented May 6, 2018).
And it definitely has me walking more again. I find myself parking my car further from my workplace so I can claim the gyms between that carpark and my office. I spend my lunchbreaks outside so I can catch Pokémon, or walking between PokéStops so I can stock up on Pokéballs. I’m more motivated to go on walks and runs because I have a Pokémon Go Plus that I can clip to my shirt and that will hatch eggs every few kilometres I travel.
I know that we should probably try harder to find intrinsic motivation to push us towards our health and wellbeing goals, but extrinsic motivation is better than nothing, right? So if you haven’t picked up Pokémon Go in awhile, now might be the perfect time to go out and find some Generation 3 Pokémon, and maybe a legendary or two.