Oliver Mitchell

Pokémon Go Can Help Your Mental Health


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The London School of Economics has published the findings of its study titled “Location-Based Mobile Gaming and Local Depression Trends: A Study of Pokémon Go.” The research group has come to the conclusion that playing Pokémon Go might alleviate depression syndrome in people who only show mild severity. Importantly, this only applies to non-clinical forms of the syndrome. The Gamer, which was the first to spot the study and share its data, attributes this to the fact that Pokémon Go encourages physical exercise as well as in-person social interactions.

The study was initially published in the Journal of Management Information Systems. The idea behind it was to measure depression depending on the region by the criterion of internet search for depression-related keywords. This is claimed to be a well-established mechanism that has been covered extensively in the medical literature. It relies on the so-called Google Misery Index to analyze existing search trends involving gloomy terms such as depression, anxiety, stress, and fatigue. The study covered 166 regions over a period of 50 weeks in 2016, which includes dates preceding the release of Pokémon Go as well as post-release weeks.

The game has been modified since it first rolled out to take into account the COVID-2019 pandemic with its restrictions. At its core, however, it encourages you to get out of the house and explore the neighborhood, collecting AR Pokémon characters. Pokémon Go is also full of social events which encourage real-life communication, which might well explain why playing it has had a positive impact on people with depression across neighborhoods. Do you think chasing Pokémon picks you up? Share your experience with this game and thoughts about whether it can alleviate depression in the comments.

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