With an astounding record of 21 million daily users, it’s no surprise Pokémon Go is having a significant impact on the world. It has joined old fans and new in an exciting adventure to “catch ‘em all” by travelling across the world in search of Pokémon. It’s revolutionized ideas of Augmented Reality—that’s the “AR” switch you see when you’re tossing Pokéballs at the eighth Rattata you’ve seen in the last hour. But maybe one of the most amazing changes Pokémon Go has made is on the users themselves, physically and mentally. The game has had astounding amounts of reviews from people suffering from common mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorders, etc. who claim the app has helped them conquer some of the daily struggles that go along with living with their illness. Because these disorders can cause exhaustion, a lack of motivation, and a general feeling of sadness, often one of the best cures is to get outside and soak up some rays. However, it’s not that easy for people suffering from these illnesses. But now Pokémon Go is getting these people out of bed and into the world. Even if it’s just for an Eevee, people are getting outside, getting some fresh air and appreciating the world around them. It’s also a fun method to get yourself moving; it is a proven fact that exercise releases endorphins into the body, making us feel happier. Now that Pokémon Go is getting people out, it’s a worldwide phenomenon of joy!
Aside from feelings of depression or lack of motivation, it’s also helping people conquer social anxiety and general awkwardness; people are meeting at Pokéstops and talking while comparing Pokédexes. In some cities you can see huge groups of people huddled around a street corner, all playing on their phones and mingling. Some players have claimed to have made more friends playing the game than in any other setting. I myself have seen loads of groups travelling around the mall, staring at each other’s phones and navigating themselves to their next catch. Because of the app people automatically have something in common and something to discuss, and when you put teams into consideration, alliances between players can grow even stronger. It’s a fun, low-pressure way to meet people, which works better for many suffering from social anxiety than your typical bar or club.
According to a blog post by Dr. Grohol, founder of Psych Central, a mental health network, these side effects were entirely unintentional but a wonderful surprise upon release of Pokémon Go. “Hundreds of app developers have tried to develop mood-altering apps by encouraging people to track their mood or providing them with encouraging affirmations. But these apps rarely catch on, and few people continue using them past the first week.” Even if the motivation is not self-made and is only through a game, getting people outside is the first step to a possible revolution of both physical and mental health. So even if you only go outside to train at the nearest Gym, Pokémon Go is an astounding landmark in health and computer sciences that is benefiting your overall health in ways that could be entirely subconscious to you. Nothing feels better than exercise that doesn’t feel like work. Mix that in with the fun AR features and the nineties nostalgia of catching Pokémon, and you’ve got a game that’s changing the world. So keep going out and catching Pokémon! You’ll never know where they might take you next!