August 29th, 2016
Have you heard about Pokemon Go? This phenomenon is sweeping the nation and getting players outside and active! Pokemon Go is an augmented reality smartphone app, which inputs virtual elements into our real world using GPS. The players’ location are tracked via an avatar on their phone screen, and fictional Pokemon characters are superimposed around them. Users are required to get active to explore their surroundings in order to catch Pokemon characters, battle other users, and collect items to be used in the game at “Pokestops” (which are usually well-known landmarks in many of our parks). The popularity of Pokemon Go has soared since its release in July. Currently, it is the top grossing game on both the Apple App store and Google Play store. With more users than Twitter, Pokemon Go (and other games like it) has potential to become a major opportunity for wellness in parks and recreation.
Because the game requires users to get outside in order to collect items and catch Pokemon, parks and recreation departments are often hotspots for Pokemon Go users. The game keeps track of how many kilometers walked, with players receiving rewards when distance milestones are achieved . Players collect “Pokemon Eggs” throughout the game, with an incubation time based on kilometers walked. It changes the usually sedentary activity of video game playing into an an active event, getting players to go outside and walk. The health benefits of this have been noticed by many users who are experiencing an increase in their physical activity. Fitness tracking apps, such as Cardiogram, noticed an increase in user activity in the weekend after the release of Pokemon Go. On the day the app launched, 45% of users were exercising for 30 or more minutes. Three days after the launch, 53% of users exercised for the same interval.
Pokemon Go has additional health benefits, including being used as a tool against anxiety and depression. Since Pokemon Go requires people to spend time outdoors and exercise, it provides an extra incentive for depressed individuals to explore the world around them and connect with other people - both important aspects to fighting against these afflictions.
Personally, I have experienced these health benefits while playing Pokemon Go. Instead of driving my car short distances, I am finding myself walking instead. I have also met people while playing the game in groups, and even reconnected with a few old friends.
So how can your department get involved with this emerging wellness trend? One simple way is to use social media to connect with Pokemon Go players in your area. It can be used as a medium to communicate park rules, Pokemon hotspots, and any other pertinent information regarding your park. Try something like our friends over at Greensboro Parks and Recreation, who have created a fun, informative Facebook video about the trend. Be sure to emphasize that your parks are a great place for people to come to get active and catch Pokemon.
For more information on how your department can get involved with Pokemon Go, please attend our next Wellness Webinar: “Get Going with Pokemon Go” on September 20th at 1:00 pm. This webinar will be hosted by myself and NCRPA Fellow, Nicole Miller. We will discuss the phenomenon of Pokemon Go, show examples of departments that are successfully implementing Pokemon Go into promotions and programs how recreation departments can embrace it to encourage physical and emotional wellness, and more. This webinar will give you a roadmap to make the most out of Pokemon Go in your community. To register, please click the following link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/819113449752822276
If your department is doing anything cool using Pokemon Go, we’d love to hear about it! Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or submit it on our Wellness Hub here
Diquan A. Edmonds | Wellness Assistant
NC Recreation & Park Association
883 Washington St, Raleigh, NC 27605
919-832-5868 | Diquan@ncrpa.net