Pokémon Go: The Latest Antidepressant
– Yumna Sadiq Hayat
Unless you live under a rock, there is a good chance that you have heard about the newest game which people cannot seem to get enough of: Pokémon Go. And if you do live under a rock, here is a little summary of what this game is all about.
Pokémon Go is a mobile game that has people chasing Pokémon characters in the real world by using their smartphone’s camera and the GPS system. Each player, in order to earn points in the game, must catch Pokémon characters by tracing them down on their mobile screen.
The game has just been released and already it has won not just hearts, but minds of people, too! In this particular article, people are actually claiming that this game is helping them with their psychological issues like they never thought possible. Issues like depression and social anxiety that are at the heart of mental health are being targeted through this game and one thinks it’s amazing how it is happening.
In depression, it is common to not wanting to leave your room, keeping the interaction with others to a bare minimum or even worse: nonexistent. In social anxiety too, you avoid socializing with people because well, it gives you anxiety. However, with a game like Pokémon Go, where people are required to move about and outside their house to catch the characters is proving to be a solid motivator for people to get more fresh air in their system, and perhaps to get more social.
Unlike other mobile games, where you can slouch on your couch with your phone in your hand, this one actually requires you to get your butt moving. Not too long ago I wrote an article for this e-magazine only talking about how something so simple as walking can have such a huge positive impact on your mental health; exercise really is beneficial for you in more than just one way (read here). The trouble is finding motivation to walk, and Pokémon Go is doing exactly that. If the thought of your blocked arteries potentially killing you off does not make you want to put your trainers on, maybe Charmander sitting in your neighbor’s backyard would?
And it works.
Getting people to be more active is not just the only thing which this game is doing for the mental health of its users. When you step outside your room to catch a Pokémon character, you will have to socialize with people, something which a lot of people are intimidated by. Looking to interact with people can be a daunting task for many primarily because they do not know how to go about it. With Pokémon Go, such fears are history. The only excuse now you need to make your social encounters more successful is that you need to catch Pikachu.
Exploring the world, just being a little more outdoorsy can significantly improve a person’s mental health. Users of this game also report feeling significantly better and I think this may have something to do with the Pokémon characters themselves because it is a little hard to remain angry and pissed when you are chasing something as adorable as Jigglypuff.