The Benefits of Playing Pokemon Go Outweigh the Risks

I was not into Pokemon Go when it first launched. It wasn’t until my mom began playing that I took interest. For a few reasons, first, when the game first came out, there were numerous game crippling bugs which made it almost impossible to play. It’s also a rather difficult game to learn at first, it gives absolutely no guidance, direction, tutorial, etc. This combined with the bugs in early days made the game frustrating and a lot less fun than it is now.

Second, I’m not one to enjoy exercise. It’s not that I’m “Lazy”, but well… exercise is “painful” and “tiring” and “annoying”.  When I started playing Pokemon Go, I thought how annoying or stupid it was to have to go outside. This was when I was playing it alone in the first few days of the launch. This began to change when I found someone (my mom) to play the game with. It’s much like the thought of having an exercise buddy.

When I was in college (10 years ago now, wow.) I went to the same school as my best friend. We’d spend our breaks swimming, playing badminton, and even (cringe) running laps. I was also doing atkins diet at the same time, and I ended up going from 200+ lbs to 127 lbs and a size 6/7 in jeans. After college, and my best friend moving to the other side of the state, now a 5 to 6 hour drive away, and going back off the atkins diet, I gained all of that weight back slowly over the years, due to lack of motivation to get out there and exercise.

I did have an xbox 360 with Kinect, and a Wii with some games which tried to add gamification elements the work out experience. I’d play them for a time, but always ultimately get bored and go back to other less “demanding” and more “rewarding” games. I will say out of the “work out” games I own, my favorite has always been “Walk It Out”, a very obscure Wii game that blasts 90s/2k pop music as you walk around a rather empty world at first; and as you walk you unlock new songs as well as begin to see the world come to life. I also enjoy DDR (although I suck at it really badly.) and Just Dance (slightly less challenging than DDR). I even had Wii Fit, and I did love the charting/tracking aspects of that game and even being able to weigh my cats lol.

But ultimately, none of those games held my interest. Was it because I didn’t have anyone to play them with? Perhaps. Was it because I still wasn’t “getting out”? I was still “at home playing videogames” something I’ve done for almost 30 years of my life.

It’s still too soon to tell how long it will be before I get “bored” with Pokemon Go. But it has some elements that are so unique and different from the other work out games I own. When I try to describe Pokemon Go to people who don’t already play, I tell them “It’s basically geocaching with pokemon”. I’d never gone geocaching before but the idea of it had always appealed to me in theory. It encourages you to get out and explore some new and sometimes remote or far away locations and you’re rewarded with small treasures (usually coins) (but in this case, it’s pokemon instead of coins).

Pokemon Go is a social game. Recently, a new dating website opened up and had such overwhelming response that they had to shut down their servers temporarily. This dating service aims to connect Pokemon Go players in their area both for playing Pokemon Go, but also for finding true love (or friendship). I’m also single right now, I’m kinda taking a break at the moment, seeing a few people but nothing serious, and find I’ve kinda backed off a bit on the dating or seeking of a mate at the moment, but when I’m ready again, in a few weeks, or months, or whatever the case may be, I have a feeling I’ll be using this Poke Date service. You can check it out here: https://www.projectfixup.com/pokedates/  – There’s also another site here: https://t.co/7sOATzdApr and probably numerous meetup.com Pokemon Go groups as well (though there weren’t any close by in my area last time I checked.).

Even if you’re not using such a site to interact with the Pokemon Go community, chances are you’re going to run into other players out in the real world, whether it’s at poke stops, gyms, or just walking around your parks or college campus, etc trying to catch pokemon. If you’re like me, you’re probably a shy introvert, who avoids other people (remember that part about sitting at home playing videogames?). I still haven’t started a conversation with anyone while playing Pokemon Go, but I have had people come up and start conversation with me, and I find it’s easy to talk to people when you have a shared interest, common goal, hobby, passion, etc. Pokemon Go can make you more comfortable in social interactions, help to break the ice, and put you in the “right place, at the right time” to meet new friends or potential romantic partners.

Pokemon Go does just that, it makes you GO places. You might find new places nearby that you’ve never visited, or it may encourage you to take a road trip, day trip, weekend trip, etc to go discover new pokemon. While playing the game, you might stumble upon new restaurants, museums, nature trails, parks, or other exciting places. Travel is fun! And Pokemon Go gives you another excuse to get away, take a vacation, take the scenic route, relax, and reconnect with nature while exploring new places and trying new things.

Pokemon Go is fun, relaxing, and addicting. Ignoring the social, psychological, and health benefits of playing the game, the game is just plain fun. The obsession to “catch them all” and to find “rare” Pokemon is a huge draw that keeps you wanting to play more and more. Just imagine if Shiny Pokemon get introduced sometime in the future, or special limited time events with special exclusive Pokemon to catch. This obsession to keep playing, keep seeking out new places with new pokemon, and “catch them all” is what keeps you motivated and interested in the game and continues to reinforce the “good habits” (exercise, social interaction, etc) that come from playing the game each day.

Pokemon Go is free. Yes, there is a cash shop, but you definitely don’t need to spend any money to enjoy this app. You can just visit your closest pokestop, and sit there for an hour or two collecting the items you need. Once again this just encourages you to keep getting out there. It’s win/win.

Pokemon Go is good exercise. It’s even being used in nursing homes to help the elderly. Gamers are not known for a love of working out or healthy habits. I’m no exception. But Pokemon Go makes me want to exercise in order to play the game. I went from being sedentary, to now walking 5 to 7 miles almost every day. I couldn’t tell you the last time I walked even a mile, let alone 5+ miles. Almost daily. Two days ago we walked ten and a half miles which so far is the farthest/longest I’ve walked while playing Pokemon Go. Of course, I am hoping to lose weight. Who doesn’t want to be more fit and healthy right? But even if that never happens simply from walking a few extra miles, I’ll tell you, this exercise has already had several benefits. The main benefit it has had is curing me of my insomnia.

Pokemon Go will help you sleep better! If you’re not used to physical activity (like me), and going through a “hard time” where your mind is just turning non-stop most nights, Pokemon Go will make you fall asleep from the physical exertion and exhaustion that comes when you increase your activity levels. The last 2 weeks I’ve been sleeping like a charm, when most of June was spent in angst and anger and disappointment and hurt feelings, I no longer have TIME to think about that. Pokemon Go keeps me busy! Keeping busy keeps me happy!

Pokemon Go will improve your mood! Exercise creates endorphins which are scientifically proven to create feelings of happiness and euphoria. It also as I mentioned helps “clear” (or otherwise occupy at least) your mind which makes you forget about your worries and troubles. It gets you out into the sunlight and sunlight is also scientifically proven to boost your mood. It helps you connect “spiritually” with nature, or helps you connect “emotionally” to other people. It reminds you you’re not alone. Pokemon Go is a comforting experience for anyone dealing with loss, death, grief, heartbreak, or other traumas.

Yes, there have been some scary stories in the news recently about Pokemon Go, either from neglect and a lack of paying attention to one’s surroundings, such as walking into traffic, falling off a cliff, or criminals using Pokemon Go to identify Poke Stops and wait for passer by to mug/rape/attack/whatever. There are also cases of people playing Pokemon Go at inappropriate times such as while working or driving. – but these incidents are few and far between when compared to the millions of players who are benefiting in some way from playing this game.

Pokemon Go means different things for different people, but for me, it has given me that little boost of motivation that I need to be more active and get out in my community.

The Benefits of Playing Pokemon Go Outweigh the Risks was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

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