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The Pokémon Go craze and why Vitality says you should get involved

News   •   Aug 08, 2016 12:59 GMT

How many have you caught? The Pokémon Go craze and why Vitality says you should get involved

Pokémon Go has caught the attention and imagination of what seems like everyone on social media in a very short space of time. Although it has not yet been released in South Africa, unless you’ve been on a social media cleanse you will have seen a large number of people posting about the craze. Among various conversations around game play and the mythos of the universe, many people including health experts, are praising the innovative augmented reality mobile game for its positive impact on how much exercise its players are doing.

First things first – what is a Pokémon and where is it going?

Pokémon Go is a location-based augmented reality mobile game available as an app download in many countries – and we’ll have a local release later this year. Players download the free-to-play app on their Android or iOS device and then physically explore their surroundings to capture (digital) Pokémon using a combination of their phone’s camera and GPS. The Pokémon appear as part of the scenery and players have to walk to catch rare or interesting Pokémon. The game has already captured the hearts – and steps – of millions of players.

Become immersed in a whole new world – and earn Vitality points for steps

According to a survey conducted with Vitality members in the United States, 15% of the members surveyed were Pokémon Go players and the game had a surprisingly broad appeal across age groups.

Many news outlets have reported the unexpected health benefits of the game which requires the player to walk through their surroundings to find Pokémon, and may entice previously sedentary people to start stepping more. The Vitality data bore this out – members who reported that they are players were more active the week after the game came out.

One of the great advantages to the game, says Dale Bond, an assistant professor of psychiatry and human behaviour at Brown University in Rhode Island, is that players might not even feel like they’re exercising because their objective is something other than burning calories. However, this might also be a disadvantage – although the game doesn’t require heavy exercise, players may exercise more than they’re used to and have some muscle soreness, strains, or even sprains from doing more exercise than they’re used to. Still, most health experts agree that even a little exercise is better than none at all and a little exercise is definitely what Pokémon Go players are getting.

The drivers of human behaviour: How to catch ‘em all

The massive popularity of the game, according to some researchers, is largely because it combines the natural endorphins associated with light exercise, being outside and socialising in a game that is goal driven and rewarding. The novelty of the game is in the augmented reality component combined with the history of the television show that had mass appeal.

So according to various Pokémon Go players, here’s how to catch them all:

  • Be prepared to walk a lot. The game is location- and lore-based so locations near water will have water type Pokémon, while more urban type Pokémon are common in cities (think Pidgeys). So, to catch lots of different kinds of Pokémon you need to explore different types of terrain.
  • Consider (carefully) cycling to Pokéstops. Travelling to Pokéstops on your bike will be faster, and you’ll be able to hatch your eggs faster. But it is also somewhat more dangerous. If you do decide to mount a phone case to your handlebars to go catching Pokémon be aware of your surroundings, including other players, and ride with the same concentration on your own safety as you normally would. If you don’t normally ride, start in unpopulated areas with safe bike paths, like a local park or botanical garden.

Aside from the obvious physical benefits, the game may also have social benefits – allowing players to meet one another in the real world. Game developers and app developers have already seen the success of Pokémon Go and are bringing out games based on a similar premise. However, bear in mind that the same rules always apply, wherever you are whether you’re walking, running, or cycling, always consider your safety.

Ready to get stepping? Track your steps using a Vitality-linked fitness device to start earning fitness points. View ways to earn points on the Discovery website.

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