A new study reveals that Pokemon GO seems to be improving the health and life expectancy of players who are dedicated to the augmented reality mobile experience.
Unlike most video games, Pokémon GO asks players to get out in the real world and do a lot of moving around. Other games like Wii Fit have attempted to get gamers on the move in the past, but according to early studies, Pokémon GO may be the most successful video game to date when it comes to improving health and quality of life for its players.
Although the majority of the Pokemon GO craze has died down, the game still makes over two million dollars per day and has millions of users. There is no denying that the game was a cultural phenomenon popular it was during its peak after launch and before the removal of the tracking tool. A study conducted between July and August examined the activity of 1,500 Pokemon GO users thanks to the help of the Microsoft Band fitness tracker. The results of the study were recently published and lead researcher Tim Althoff chatted with Polygon about the positive findings.
Before we get into the results of the survey, it's important to recognize the limited sample size. 1,500 is a very small sample and there were other limiting factors, such as the Microsoft Band requirement. The average participant was 33 years old, 36.5 percent were overweight, and 28.2 percent were obese. In terms of BMI, that breakdown is fairly close the national average in the US. According to the survey results, those numbers may drop down if people stay on the Pokémon GO bandwagon...
"After they start playing Pokémon GO they exhibit a large increase in activity to an average of 7,229 daily steps ... which now is about 13 percent larger than the control population."
According to the American Heart Association, people should walk about 10,000 steps (or five miles) daily, so a 7,000 step average is a great move in that direction. Gamers are using lunch breaks, dog walks, and hiking to go hunting for Pokémon or hatch a few eggs and it looks like the experience is significant enough to have some very positive results in terms of health. Althoff went on to speak about the potential benefits to life expectancy for GO users...
"I find the life expectancy analysis intriguing because it highlights the massive impact that games like Pokémon GO could have on public health, the fact that an app could have a measurable impact on US-wide life expectancy... However, the analysis is based on the assumption that Pokémon GO would be able to sustain the high levels of engagement. This is certainly their goal but our analyses also highlight that this is their main challenge."
Considering the severe drop-off in activity in the game's recent months, this issue of continued engagement is a valid concern. Players need motivation to return to the game daily, which could eventually arrive in the form of a daily questing system like Hearthstone's or simply by drawing players back in with new features and additional generations of Pokémon. So far Niantic's new features, like the Buddy System, have moved the meter a bit, but certainly haven't returned the game to its mid-summer glory.
It will be very interesting to continue tracking the health benefits of Pokémon GO as the game gets older and research sample sizes grow larger. It's hard to tell the long term effects of the game at this point, but there's no denying it has left its mark in the cultural landscape.
Have you seen your step count increase since Pokémon GO's release? Are you still playing the game? Let us know in the comments.
Check out our Pokemon GO guides:
- How to Use the New Sightings Tool
- How to Win Battles
- How to Become a Gym Leader
- How to Get Pokecoins
- How to Catch Pikachu as a Starter
- How to Use and Hatch Eggs
- How to Catch Rare Pokemon
- How to Use Pokestops
- How to Control Eevee’s Evolution
- Trainer Rewards at Every Level
- How to Hold Gyms Longer
- Where to Find Specific Pokemon
- How to Trigger Pokemon Spawns
- Every Type’s Strengths and Weaknesses
- Catching Region Exclusive Pokemon
- Everything to Know About the Buddy System
- How to Equip a Buddy Pokemon
- How to Use Pokemon GO Plus
Pokemon GO is currently available in select regions on Android and iOS devices.