Experiencing Pokémon GO
Thinking back to the summer of 2016, many of us have fond memories of the launch of Pokémon GO, experiencing the game, and watching it become a cultural phenomenon. Much like the Nintendo Wii, the game allowed many people who may not have traditionally called themselves gamers to engage in an incredible individual and community experience. Combining both a social and physical aspect of the game, it’s reasonable to assume there may be mental health benefits associated with playing the game. Looking at the article, “Pokémon GO’s Mental Health Benefits Detailed in Academic Study” by Matthew Wilcox of Screen Rant, we will take a closer look at potential effects.
According to Wilcox, the study was conducted by The London School of Economics and was published in April 2022 in the Journal of Management Information Systems and examined if Pokémon GO impacted depression. Wilcox goes on to express that the study examined data dating back to launch that tied to a “significant short-term decrease in depression-related internet searches,” which Wilcox mentions is a reliable method of viewing the mental health of a population.
Wilcox states, “As a result, they have concluded the game may help with mild, non-clinical forms of depression. This is largely thanks to Pokémon GO's focus on interaction with other people and gameplay geared at outside adventures, like the upcoming Pokémon GO event to plant trees.” However, he also notes that the positive benefits noted only pertain to mild depression and that severe, clinical depression and other mental health concerns may be less affected by the game.
That said, it’s exciting to learn that Pokémon GO may have had a positive impact on the population. While correlation does not equal causation, it’s interesting that the massive viral phenomenon came alongside a decrease in internet searches that were depression related. The community and physical aspects of the game are powerful, and we’re excited to play similar games in the future.