Home > Uncategorized > Don’t like walking? PokemonGO could change that for you

Don’t like walking? PokemonGO could change that for you


For several years now different companies have been creating location based games. These games use our smartphones GPS and integrate surrounding landmarks to later transform them into a digitally augmented reality (AR) worlds.

As Physicians we always recommend our patients to become as healthy as possible and we emphasize the words “lifestyle modifications”. Lifestyle modifications aim to change an individual’s way of living and become healthy as possible without or with the minimum possible use of medications. With lifestyle modifications we aim to reduce weight, become healthier and therefore directly impacting the course of diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol.

As a digital health innovator and video-gaming enthusiast I have always believed that gamification is the key to lifestyle modification. Gamification is defined as the application of typical elements of game playing to other areas of activity. PokemonGO is probably the best executed game and successful augmented reality game that is indirectly impacting the health of individuals by making them get out, walk and explore their neighborhood.

PokemonGO was created by Niantic Labs who are also the creators of another augmented reality game called Ingress. The reason why this is relevant is that all those Pokestops and Pokegyms that you see are an importation of the database from ingress. The Ingress portals that were created by people playing the game and taking pictures of locations are now the pokestops and pokegyms.

The reason why I am excited about PokemonGo and future AR games is that this game has arguably managed to tackle the “Lifestyle Modification realm” with far greater impact than the whole medical community placed together in the last 50 years.

We always tell our patients to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, to eat healthy, to lose weight, avoid becoming obese. In most cases with little impact. The reason why this happens, lets face it, is that only a lucky few really get pleasure from exercise. If exercise is not fun it turns into a chore, and if it is a chore we will not keep doing it. Nobody wants to come home from work just to get into another chore. For those of you that can do it congratulations, for those of you who find it more challenging AR games might have finally found a right formula.

I have tried multiple apps/games in the past that have the potential to modify our lifestyle. To name a few; Life is Crime, Life is Magic, Zombies Run, Ingress and more recently I have been keeping my eye on one called Run an Empire, this last one looks great but has not been released.

So what is the big deal about PokemonGO?

Simple the average video gamer age is now 38 years old. Yes you heard it, this means we grew up with Atari, Colecovision, Sega, Nintendo, Snes, Nintendo 64, Xbox, Playstation, Steam. Personally I am currently exploring Virtual Reality as well with the Oculus Rift, HTCVive, Sony Morpheus. In any case, the important thing here is that Niantic Labs partnered with Nintendo (who own majority stake of Pokemon Co) and they have managed to create a game that allures kids of all ages (including those in there 70s). I have been using the game since its and almost Level 21 and I can tell you I am extremely excited about it. Never in my life have I seen a crowd of people walking around in groups. In the past, people chasing and trying to capture imaginary characters would have been considered crazy, now they are our society.

I have been going to different locations witnessing an ever-growing group of people walking around. At first I must admit it feels awkward, to a certain extent because you feel you are being judged and thus might hold back on using it. My recommendation is don’t. Never stop doing things because of what other might think of you. If you want to ahead and try it GO AHEAD. The first time I used it in public was in South Padre Island, I went for a run and started capturing Pokemon and started noticing other people staring and walking with their phones. I started asking people if they were playing PokemonGo and they started laughing “YES! Are you?!” Me “Definitely!”. This continued and I have met many people in similar scenarios. I would like to emphasize a PAUSE here! Yes PokemonGO has also been targets of assaults and other crimes, it is not a reason on why not to use it, just be careful and use proper judgement please.

I continued to play PokemonGo and started exploring Mission. In order to find more Pokestops and Pokegyms it occurred to me to use the Ingress Intel site (previous game of Niantic whose database was imported) to find more locations. One key region I have the Veteran’s War Memorial. The VWM has in a 5 Pokestops and 5 Pokegyms together which has managed to create crowds that are growing in a daily basis. Not to mention that it is also likely increasing sales.

Initially it was the younger population, mostly teens but this has changed dramatically in the last couple of weeks and many videos have been uploaded to youtube in which hundreds if not thousands of people are walking/running chasing PokeMons. What I have been witnessing lately is that parents of children are now taking their children for walks. Hey, be it what it may be, people are walking now and that is a Start!

As an individual replied to the post I was interviewed for in TCTMD. As funny as that sounded to me at first, he’s right. My initial reaction was, “Well yeah, of course Pokémon fans are going to be into it.” But then I remembered that my 74 year old dad made me install it on his phone a week ago and he’s still super psyched about it. He grumbles when the servers go down and before Pokémon GO he had no idea what Pokémon really was. And now we take long walks together every week, fully stocked with a 20,000 mAh power bank and 2 liters of water.

Due to the popularity of Pokemon, it is hard to believe that this hype will be weaning, on the opposite it will continue to grow. I can easily see how this can be incorporated to promote healthier lives in McAllen from Schools to Nursing homes. For those that think this is an unrealistic comment I would just like you to know that C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan is using the popular game to get kids out of their rooms so they can exercise and be social with other young patients. It is just about thinking outside the box, something the Medicine has been needing for many years now.

For those of you playing the game or wanting to get started on it I will leave some pointers on how to level up your character quickly to catch ’em all. 1) Error #1 people don’t walk as much as they should around pokestops. I have managed to level up my character by walking in a fast pace and running in safe places while playing the game. It is a skill to be mastered and yes accidents can happen but so can they when you are mountain biking but there are no Mountains in McAllen! I now can run and catch Pokemon while running with certain ease. If you are concerned about running out of Pokeballs well then run near Pokestops so you can replenish your equipment 2)If you find a place where there are a lot of Pokestops like the VWM, use a lucky egg, + incense + take advantage of all the lures that people place and this will surely help you level up quickly, I am now level 21 3) DO NOT waist stardust leveling up a character at least until you are level 15. Save it and when you are a higher level you will be able to capture higher tier Pokemon without having to waist the stardust.

In a near future RGV Cardiology will be holding events to help you level up your character and get healthy at the same time! See you then and happy hunting!




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