Will Pokémon Go Cure American Obesity?


Okay, so if you haven’t been living under a rock the past two weeks, you probably may be thinking what exactly can playing Pokémon Go do other than just capture Pokémon (all 150), conquer gyms, do special attacks and hang out with friends at Pokestops. Most likely, if you’re playing Pokémon Go, you’re spending more time walking than ever before. And if you are walking, hopefully it’s with your head up and being aware of your surroundings as much as you are looking for Pokémon.

However, beyond just making it easier to get in shape, Pokémon Go is inspiring other use cases as well. In order to hatch Pokémon eggs, players have to walk a certain distance while using the app. Animal charity app WoofTrax, an app that raises money for homeless pets by the distance users walk, is suggesting Pokémon Go players support the charity with the same steps they’re using to catch Pokémon. While the apps are not specifically related you can use them both at the same time. And, fret not, if you don’t have a pet of your own to walk while looking for Pikachu, you can choose the “Walk for Cassie” option on WoofTrax and help out a homeless pet.

Which made us stop and think. What else do people need to know about Pokémon Go? We thought, who better to ask than our resident expert and Poketrainer, Alex Murray.

Q: Why do you think everyone is so interested in Pokémon Go beyond the physical exercise aspect?

Alex: The bottom line is everyone loves Pokémon, the global phenomenon reaches beyond the gaming community. A recent survey by Vox found that 98% of millennials surveyed knew who Pikachu was versus 61% who know who Joe Biden was. Everyone has been waiting for Nintendo to make the jump to mobile so what better way to do this than through Pokémon. Pokémon Go is not just about the exercise, it’s a classic social game. Everyone who plays it is talking to each other, collaborating, sharing stories, ideas and ways to catch their favorite Pokémon and advance levels. You also can’t shake the nostalgia factor. There are many who are playing now that used to play the original Gameboy games as kids, and are having fun reliving great childhood memories. Not to mention bringing a whole new generation of kids into the Pokémon craze.

Q: There’s been a lot written about the reaction to Pokémon Go, safety concerns, game going down, bugs/glitches, and long stares from passers-by, what’s your take on all of this?

Pokemon Go Denton

Alex: Well tying this back to our own profession, there’s a huge PR opportunity here and the company behind Pokémon Go, Niantic labs seems to be missing in action. While the app continues to break records in terms of downloads and even the stock market, Niantic appears to be remaining completely quiet. Little coverage of Pokémon Go to date has any perspective from a Niantic executive. On top of lack of voices in the media, the brand has little communication to the actual players and they’re missing out on the huge opportunity to give good will back to the player community by connecting to them. Customer word of mouth can be far more powerful than placing any ad.

A really important thing to note, with all the server crashes and bugs, any other app would have failed because of the way they are handling the communication to the player community.

Q: You have to be thinking you were prophetic based on the VR vs AR blog you wrote a while back. What’s your take on Pokémon Go in that context?

AR has been around for quite some time but hasn’t been able to earn mainstream acceptance. It took an app like Pokémon Go to introduce the technology to the masses. Just as I mentioned in my blog, Augmented Reality (AR) has massive potential to complement our daily lives. I also mentioned that while the technology remains tethered to our phones, the app can’t reach its full potential. This point is supported the next time you see a group playing Pokémon Go walking aimlessly trying to capture Pokémon with their eyes glued to the screen. So while it’s great to see so many people accepting the technology, AR still has a long way to go for applications outside of gaming.

Q: Where do you see the broader business opportunity?

Alex: We can tie this back to Austin specifically. Take Amy’s Ice Cream for example, in Pokémon Go players choose to be part of one of three teams (based on color). At Amy’s they are cycling through the colors each day and offering discounts on particular days depending on what team color you are. So while I’m really excited about the exercise opportunities, I’m sure I’m not the only one torn about this particular opportunity. My favorite bar, Crow Bar, is a Pokestop and a gym so I get the best of all worlds, hanging out with friends, drinking my favorite beverage and playing my new favorite game.

Q: What’s your favorite Pokémon you’ve caught so far?

Alex: My favorite is definitely Jolteon. It’s not necessarily rare or my strongest but definitely one of my favorites. It’s electric and has a really cool look to it and strong when I need it to be.Jolteon

Intrigued? Well there are more than a few resources to learn about Pokémon Go. A good place to start is with the following:

Pokémon Go: Everything You Need to Know in 9 Minutes

How to Play Pokémon Go

The Complete Beginners Guide To Pokémon Go (Everything To Know)