5 Things I Didn’t Expect From Pokemon Go
This time last week, I jumped in a car with four friends and drove an hour north after work to spend four hours walking around barely lit parks in suburbs I used to feel unsafe in during the day – and it’s all because of Pokemon Go.
Pokemon finally made it to smartphones in Australia, New Zealand and the US on July 6. As a member of the prime Pokemon generation (aged between 6-13 in the Golden era of gameboys, Ash, Misty and Brock) this was the moment we’ve been waiting for since our first Nokia, and I’ve never been so glued to my screen as I was in that first week.
You’d think that was a bad thing (especially considering last year’s resolution) but the game has left me pleasantly surprised – apart from a few dickheads, it’s really bringing out the best in people. Even if we’re all over completely it in a week (very likely), I feel like this is a bit of a turning point and we’ll be knowing our neighbours in no time.
Wondering what the heck I’m on about? Here are the five things I totally didn’t expect from Pokemon Go that are making the world a better place (and please note – I don’t condone the moronic habit of playing it in the middle of busy footpaths).
It’s getting people moving
Wii Fit has nothing on Pokemon Go. I walked over 40km over the first week – and that’s only with the app active and on my screen. I’ve always been fairly active, but the good this is doing for so many kids who would usually be sitting at home with their Xbox is incredible.
Pokemon Go is making the streets safe(r)
I’m not a huge fan of the dark. After going for an 8pm run through the area in 2013 (during which I think I ran from my own shadow), I swore I’d never go to the Botanic Gardens at night again. But last weekend, I was walking through creepy rows of trees with my boyfriend and three guys I’d never met before, chasing a dratini and talking about our childhood memories of the game while hundreds of other people did the same.
People are talking to strangers again
Two weeks ago, charging through a park with your eyes glued to a screen was like a big, red “don’t talk to me sign.” Now, people are peering over strangers shoulders to check if they’re playing and asking them if they’ve found anything good – Niantic has managed to break through one hell of a barrier.
It’s making me (and many other people) see more of my city
Pokestops (locations where you can collect pokeballs and other items) are set as landmarks on your map, and can be anything from a painted electricity box to a full on art installations – turns out there’s a gargoyle on the office building across from mine and I now know who more of the statues around Brisbane are of. I’m also exploring a lot more – from wandering that little bit further down the path that used to be my usual Sunday walk to doing laps of a suburb I’d only ever seen from the train station. And I have never seen so many people in South Bank outside Riverfire and NYE.
It’s been having a brilliant impact on youth mental health
Even as someone who enjoys the odd Xbox binge, I wouldn’t have believed anything that involved staring at screens more would help people fee better. But it has. Check out these articles:
- Triple J Hack – Turns Out Pokemon Go Is Unexpectedly Great For Mental Health
- BuzzFeed – Playing Pokemon Go is Helping People With Mental Health Issues Feel Better
- Health – Can Pokemon Go Really Improve Your Mental Health?
Have you been playing Pokemon Go, or are you sick to death of the crowds of people with their phones out? Let me know what you think in the comments.