Pokemon Go has received a lot of bad press since its release. From police officers warning people to not fall prey to criminals setting Pokemon Go traps to the anti-tech crowd lamenting about people using their phones to search for Pokemon all over hill and dale, it’s almost like the game is causing Armageddon. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are dozens of positive stories about Nintendo’s revolutionary game that dwarf the naysayers, proving that the game is not only changing the way the world looks at video games, but the actual positive impact that games can have on the world itself. For people and animals alike, the app is so much more than a game.
From improved mental and physical health to better quality of life, saving actual lives to advancing everything from law enforcement to the political process, here are 15 Ways Pokemon Go Is Making The World A Better Place.
15. A Soothing Escape
There is no denying that Pokemon Go is a whimsical addition to life in general, adding an element of animated fantasy to any setting and allowing users to virtually interact with cool creatures in a brand new way. But as much as Pokemon Go feels like a fun escape from the banality of reality for the individuals who casually play the game, it is an even bigger and better distraction for hospital patients who otherwise have no form of escape.
Being stuck in a hospital is difficult for people of all ages, but when patients have access to a game that allows them to pretend they are doing something completely different than laying in a bed all day, it helps them keep their minds off their suffering and and get locked into a fun, new goal. When a Psyduck hangs out with you during a chemo treatment, the experience could suck a tiny bit less.
14. Business Patronage
People might be crying foul over Pokemon Go sending kids to their local McDonald’s, but plenty of small businesses, including some that have struggled, have seen profits because of the game. Small businesses can spend a minimal amount of money on a lure to help get players to come catch Pokemon and experience huge profit margins as a result. One example, L’Inizio Pizza Bar, has reaped a 75% increase in sales since using a lure.
Pokemon is also already a better way to connect with customers without throwing ads in their faces. Pokemon users spend nearly double the amount of time that they spend on Instagram on the game, with the average user in the United States playing for 43 minutes a day. Lure Modules can even be activated at certain limited time periods to help increase competitiveness among players while fostering an increase in business during peak hours.
13. City Exploration
Having a staycation to explore your own city may be all the rage for families on a budget, but it isn’t something that people tend to do on a regular basis. Many people don’t even know about the hidden wonders that exist in their hometowns. From museums to science centers, eccentric roadside attractions to famous birthplaces and parks, Pokemon Go is leading people on adventures without travelling too far from home.
New tourists are also becoming attracted to Pokemon hot spots. Experts say the game is even changing tourism, with many visitors now seeking Pokemon rather than the usual selfie at various attractions. In some locations, this has proven inappropriate, such as the 9/11 Memorial, but in others, like Legoland, it adds extra fun to the usual visit. While “augmented reality” has been around for a long time between virtual reality games and even roller coasters, Pokemon Go is combining the technology with instant access via Smartphone as well as the nostalgic love of Pokemon, resulting in something that most people can enjoy at any time of day without cumbersome equipment or expensive accessories.
12. A Pokemon Is A Person In Your Neighborhood
Social media has come under a lot of fire for isolating people rather than bringing them together. Studies suggest that people are actually more lonely when they are connecting on Facebook, Twitter and other social media in lieu of actual face time. Pokemon Go forces people to connect and venture out, and while that doesn’t mean players have to talk to one another, being social is a side effect of the game. People are getting together, becoming more neighborly and even picking up new stories to share just by playing the game.
When people opt to stay inside and live via their screens, they just don’t pick up the same kind of life adventures that give mankind the best stories. Pokemon Go is helping people reconnect with their inner explorers that are part of natural human nature, enabling them to make friends and share experiences better than any other game.
11. Saving Animal Lives
One of the best stories being shared around the Internet right now is about how Pokemon Go is finding homes for shelter animals. While some Facebook posts about the story vastly exaggerated its actual impact on the shelter, it is true that the Muncie Animal Shelter of Indiana not only offers a dog walking program for people who want to get outside and catch Pokemon with a companion, but that at least six dogs have been adopted via the initiative.
Other cities are catching on to the tactic, inviting players to take a dog out for a walk, resulting in two-thirds of the dog population of at least one shelter getting adopted in the process. The shelter dogs are also receiving the benefits of socialization and exercise when volunteers offer to walk the dogs while they catch Pikachu and Eevee. Officials say that female dogs can even produce more milk when they are walked more regularly.
10. Catching Bad Guys
“Gotta catch ’em all!” doesn’t only apply to Pokemon these days, even when Pokemon Go is the subject. The game is helping law enforcement solve crimes as police bond with players, people report suspicious activities and bodies are even found by players. Not only did a teen find a dead body while using the game during its first week of use, but it’s also helping authorities catch criminals pretty quickly.
Reports are coming in across the nation about how Pokemon Go has led to the arrest or apprehension of baddies, from alleged vandals to an attempted murder suspect to possible child molesters. Some officers are even using the game as bait to lure criminals into a trap. Officers are also bonding with players at a time when civilian and law enforcement tensions are high, being photographed playing the game with locals and improving community relations. Some are saying that the game is helping to break down barriers between police officers and the communities they protect.
9. Registering Voters
Even when politics seem more polarizing than ever, Pokemon Go is getting people to care about elections. Several political groups, including the Clinton campaign, are using the game as an incentive to register to vote. Organizers are setting up Pokestops and gyms to encourage locals to venture out to their location and become registered or to join with the campaign. Not to be outdone, Donald Trump has also employed Pokemon Go in his campaign, but in ads against the former Secretary of State.
Some campaign workers are even traveling to Pokestops to find potential voters. Media experts say that it has traction because of the way it’s designed to get people outside and moving. Given that President Obama relied heavily upon new technology and social media in particular for his popularity with youth and overall victory, politicians from any side could see a jump in numbers for hitching onto the Pokemon wagon.
8. Physical Fitness
Although no one is going to burn many calories in a virtual Pokemon Go gym, there is no denying that the game has a big perk that plenty of other games lack: it gets people outside and exercising. Some parts of the game, such as hatching eggs, even require people to move their bodies. Cheats don’t work in this situation, either, as warehouse workers have tried to hatch eggs while walking through their plants only for the game to time out once it detects repetitive movement in circles. Users cannot hatch eggs traveling in a vehicle, either, as there is a speed limit imposed to ensure gamers actually do the legwork.
People who engage in regular physical fitness outside breathe in fresh air and achieve not only better physical health, but improved mental health as well. Individuals who spend more time in nature are also more likely to care about the environment, making Pokemon Go a possible tool to help better the health of the planet as well as that of its inhabitants.
Finding love with the assistance of a virtual world is not unheard of among gamers, with plenty of couples citing Warcraft or Halo as their matchmaker. While some people may scoff at this form of partner-finding, it actually makes plenty of sense to find your soulmate doing what you love to do. After all, who better to spend the rest of your life with than the person who enjoys your hobby as much as you do?
That is what Pokemon Go is doing. The game is connecting Pokemon lovers in person, and a dating service is in development, as they meet to catch a Squirtle or Jigglypuff only to leave with someone’s number. It is meeting up at a bookstore, bar or park with the added bonus of already knowing at least one of the person’s interests. One young man who met a date this way said, “I’ve never met a stranger and felt so connected. It’s like you shared the same childhood.”
6. It’s A Game-Changer
Even with virtual reality more accessible than ever, Pokemon Go is nothing short of a game-changer. The free app hit number one in U.S. phone sales within 13 hours of hitting the market and became the number-one downloaded game. Its popularity is uncontested. While previous location-based mobile games have had little to moderate success, Pokemon Go has combined the nostalgia of Pokemon with the whimsy of fantasy taking real form via virtual reality into something that may change the way games are created forever. Users have spent more time on the game than on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram, prompting social networking gurus to think outside the box in order to remain competitive as well. Future social networking tools may include more opportunities for the face-to-face connection that Pokemon Go is creating.Pokemon Go is also changing the way businesses advertise, as was mentioned above. This is a very welcome change considering that people can now play through an ad experience rather than stomach through the ads annoyingly taking up computer space. Other companies will be sure to jump on the Pokemon Go train soon not just for their advertising needs but also their own games that work as lures. Without the nostalgia behind their games, however, they may not be as successful.
5. It’s Uniting Generations of Geeks
Bridging the age gap is often impossible, with people of every generation complaining about “young people these days,” or even about how “old people” are out of touch on a daily basis. In an age of nostalgia, this gap should logically shrink and Pokemon Go is serving as a catalyst for that effect.The game gives people something in common to bond over, sharing their interests as they play the game. Although only 6% of users are over age 50, a whopping 46% are ages 18 to 29. 22% of players are ages 13 to 17 and 25% are ages 30 through 50.Stories of cross-generational encounters during Pokemon Go play are all over the Internet. There was a funny story about a man who captured a Pokemon a group of kids were after, crying out, “Team Rocket is blasting off again!” Many adults who play the game are even being labeled as slackers, giving them a taste of how the kids playing games feel on a regular basis. Kids, too, are becoming empathetic with adults as they are wowed by all of the Pokemon adults know. Families are joining up with single people and users of all ages are joining local meetups to find Pokemon together, making it one of the most unifying tools in the modern world.
4. Exercising Pets
Humans are not the only mammals who need regular daily exercise, and their pets are often lost in the shuffle. Only about 40% of dog owners walk their pets on a regular basis, but Pokemon Go is changing that. Instead of flopping on the couch after a long day at work, gamers are finding themselves out in their neighborhoods and parks, often with Fido in tow. From shelter dogs to adopted pets, so many dogs are now getting exercise that the Washington Post is even joking about “dogs that are so tired of going on Pokemon Go walks.”All joking aside, walking is essential for the health of most dogs. Walking helps pets maintain weight control and stay healthy. It socializes dogs with both other dogs and people while “wearing them out,” ensuring that they are nice and tired at the end of the day instead of gnawing on a pair of favorite shoes.
3. Therapy For ASD And Depression
Both kids and adults on the autism spectrum have support through playing Pokemon Go. Nonverbal children are finding ways to connect with others as they enjoy finding animated characters together throughout their neighborhoods. Teens and young adults with ASD are leaving their homes in search of Pokemon when they might otherwise remain indoors, withdrawing from society.
Doctors suggest that those with a reason to leave the home enjoy more benefits and a higher quality of life, but once an activity is complete they just return home. The Pokemon difference is that users are engaged every day, with never-ending opportunities to locate new Pokemon. Some therapists are actually requesting that parents not judge the game when children use it to engage with the world but embrace it instead.
Individuals with depression are also improving their quality of life with the game. Doctors say that there has been nothing like the game in terms of a technological tool to help people connect with others and find the motivation to get up, engage in self-care and get fresh air.
2. Promoting Education
Playing Pokemon Go has a wide range of benefits, and one of those is the intellectual stimulation people are finding through the game. Though this engagement is not necessarily through the game itself, many players are hunting Pokemon at cultural institutions, museums, science centers and other locations they would normally not frequent on a regular basis. While some locations, such as the Holocaust Museum, have understandably requested that users practice respect and cease hunting Pokemon on the premises, others have embraced the game, even going to great lengths to create events to welcome players.
While some museums are already Pokestops, others are creating Pokestops to invite more people to visit. Some museums are even creating events designed for hunting Pokemon to get players out of the house and into cultural centers where they are sure to learn something new.
1. Making Gamers Into Friends
Pokemon Go is being hailed as the “most important game of the decade,” and one thing that it’s doing is making friends out of all kinds of gamers. In addition to breaking barriers between police and the public, politicians and constituents and even the young and old, it is connecting Sony fans with Xboxers, men and women, and just about everyone in between. While there are going to be trolls in every gaming community, the one thing that people notice about Pokeplayers is that they are, well, nice. It is not uncommon to see players being kind to one another, helping each other with clues or even just giving each other a friendly wave while they pass by a Pokestop. Instead of the insults and snide remarks that players make in many communities, Pokemon Go fans give each other encouragement and politeness, perhaps due to the game’s face to face interaction. If kindness is the one thing that can change the world, then Pokemon Go just may eventually find its way onto the U.N. floor.