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Research Shows POKÉMON GO Didn’t Really Affect Physical Activity, But There Is Hope

Earlier this year, Pokémon GO, the mobile AR game that you’ve definitely already heard of — it’s been downloaded at least 500 million times — made a huge splash in the gaming world. A splash that came in large part from the effects the game supposedly had on the social aspects of people’s lives. Now it turns out that, according to recently published research, at least the physical activity that the game inspired may have been (Dun Dun Duhhhhhh) overhyped.

In a paper published in the BMJ, researchers report they found that “Pokémon GO was associated with an increase in the daily number of steps after installation of the game… [but that] The association was… moderate and no longer observed after six weeks.”

In the clip above, a researcher describes the average effect that Pokémon GO had on players (who “tended to be younger, have a lower education and household income, and be obese, and were more likely to be single”) based on number of steps taken. And it turns out that while the game had a significant impact on number of steps taken in the first week (an additional 955 steps/day), by week 6, the effect had diminished to “pre-installation” levels.

However, despite the fact that the extra steps taken may be a short-lived effect, Eric Rimm, senior author of the paper, notes at the end of the video that he still thinks “there’s a great social aspect to Augmented Reality games… sometimes you do them with friends, they’re intergenerational… [and Pokémon Go shows that] over a 6-week period, you can do a lot to increase physical activity.” He added that, “We just have to be more creative about finding ways to get people to keep exercising.”

What do you think about these Pokémon GO findings? Do you think AR games in general are a good response to sitting on the couch in front of a screen? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Images: The BMJ

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