If you are like most parents, you probably groan every time you hear your children talking about the latest game they have playing. Your initial reaction is likely, “Great. Another distraction to keep my kid on the couch and staring at that screen all day.” Most parents have been there. Unfortunately today’s technologically centered world is great at creating more and more ways to discourage young people from being active. The good news is that the hottest thing in gaming right now, Pokemon Go, is a game that requires its players to get out and get moving.
Just in case you are unfamiliar with Pokemon Go, here is a brief introduction to how the game works. Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game for smartphones that allows players to “catch” Pokemon as they appear throughout the real world. When a player finds a Pokemon, the game’s augmented reality mode uses the gyroscope and camera in the player’s phone to display an image of the Pokemon as if it were in the real world for the player to then capture. It’s sort of like a new take on geocaching, the recreational activity where participants use the GPS on their mobile devices to navigate to containers (called geocaches) located throughout the world.
There are several ways the game encourages its players to get exercise and it is not uncommon for users to walk miles a day playing the game. For example, if you want to “hatch an egg” within the game, you are required to compete a 2-5 km walk before it will hatch. Features like this make it a requirement to exercise to achieve certain goals within the game.
The fact that most Pokemon congregate at places called “Pokestops” or “Pokegyms” will also encourage increased physical activity by encouraging the player to walk or ride his or her bike to these locations, which are usually public places like parks or other attractions. The game also provides positive reinforcement for its players by awarding medals for certain distances traveled (and won’t award credit for any distance covered traveling faster than 20 miles per hour.) The goal of all the games in the Pokemon franchise is to “catch them all” and there are well over a hundred different Pokemon creatures available to be captured. Hopefully the hope of achieving this goal will encourage kids who play the game to continue their increased physical activity for an extended period of time.
Check out all of the Pokemon Go products Amazon has in stock!
Pokemon Go may have come around at just the right time. The trend as of late has been that our children are getting less and less active and more and more out of shape. Childhood obesity is a growing problem in this country and we have been struggling to come up with ways to combat it. Whether intentional or not, Pokemon Go has become an innovative way to put a dent in that problem. And with the game’s incredible popularity, we can only hope that other developers will continue to come up with games that encourage our young people to go outside and be active.