Pokémon has been one of the most popular cartoons on television for the past 20 years. Its fanbase is on a worldwide scale, appealing to millions of people across the world. Last week, a new video game based on the franchise was released called Pokémon GO. Since then, the game has taken the world by storm (well, those countries with access to it at least). Forbes reports that the game has been downloaded at least 7.5 million times in the US alone. According to Gizmodo, the popularity of the app has surpassed Tinder with Twitter now in its sights. Various brands have even used the craze to help promote themselves among the masses.

So what is all the fuss about? What’s so interesting about this new video game?

Let’s explain.  

Pokémon GO allows players to seek and capture Pokémon by using a map of their real-life surroundings to track the ones in the closest range. They can then use them to engage in battles with other Pokémon, all while exploring the great outdoors. 

Cool, right?

With a game as innovative as this one is, it’s only natural for it to come with a few pros and cons; many of which affect our health and wellbeing. It forces players venture into the outside world, rather than simply sitting on their phones, travelling further than they normally would to find the nearest Pokémon. Aside from the obvious health benefits of exercise, by going outside more often players are exposing themselves to the fresh air around them. This can not only improve their physical wellbeing, but also promote a better state of mind. Social interaction is another factor that can have positive impacts on our mental health. Some users seem to be using the game as a way to catch up with their friends who are also Pokémon fans. They can go Pokémon hunting together and battle each other, using their individual skills to catch more Pokémon between them.

On the other hand, the distraction presents a danger to the players themselves as well as others around them. The distraction can make the game a hazard on our roads, as the player’s focus drifts from the game to the real world while hunting. As with most games, addiction can lead to a number of bad habits. Angharad Yeo, a gamer and Production Coordinator for ABC’s Good Game, told ABC News that she has lost sleep because of the game, which creates serious health issues.

“I'm enjoying it almost too much, I'd say. I have lost sleep over it - that's always the sign of a good game and probably something I should stop,” she said.

It’s important to stay safe while playing the game, so make sure you know where you’re going and pay attention to what’s going on around you. Adelaide Now reports that a wearable device is being developed by Niantic Labs to eliminate the distractive elements of the game.

As Niantic Labs says on their website:

“We are also super excited about the Pokémon GO Plus wearable device which will enable players to capture Pokémon and harvest items from PokéStops without ever taking their phone out of their pocket or bag.”

While we wait for the next gaming innovation to surface, all we can do is get out there, be safe and, most importantly, have fun. Good luck!

Feature Image: YouTube


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