Pokémon GO was officially released in South Africa last week and if you’ve been looking for an excuse to download the app and start playing here’s a great one: your health.
While it might sound ridiculous, a study of some 1 420 Pokémon GO players by Stanford University and Microsoft found that playing the game has the potential to add 41.4 days to a person’s life. That expectancy comes with the caveat that you would need to play the game for the rest of your life.
You might be wondering how a game can increase your time on this planet and the answer is simply, exercise. Just in case you don’t know by now, Pokémon GO requires players to walk a certain distance to collect new Pokemon. There’s also a fair amount of walking involved in finding Pokemon and getting to gyms and Pokestops.
The research conducted by Stanford and Microsoft monitored 31,793 users who had agreed to have their physical activity monitored via the Microsoft Band. The researchers then searched within that sample group for those who searched for Pokemon GO. The team examined experiential terms a Pokémon GO player might search for such as “pokemon go iv calculator” and “pokemon go teams” to determine whether a user might be involved in a game. Queries for terms such as “pokemon games” and “pokemon go” were excluded.
The study found some interesting correlations between these search queries and a user’s activity. “Users that issued ten Pokémon GO queries on details of the game within the two months after release of the game, increased their activity by 1479 steps a day or 26%,” the study suggests.
“On average, users with an experiential query for Pokémon GO increased their physical activity by 192 steps a day for the next 30 days.”
What’s more is that Pokémon GO seemed to reach folks that weren’t active before the game’s release illustrating that the game did indeed inspire folks to walk a bit more than usual.
While the study was centred around Pokémon GO, it does show that games which require players to engage in physical activity can have a positive impact on their health provided they maintain said physical activity.
Of course this isn’t entirely conclusive given that no other factors – such as diet and cheating in the game – were taken into account, but physical exercise can improve your health.
If a game manages to get more people who weren’t active before walking, well that’s alright in our books.