What’s All the PoGo Hubbub?

Today’s blog takes a look at how a new smart phone game is encouraging physical activity and social connections. Guest blogger, Jacob Sexton is a young leader in Spartanburg and member of the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professionals.

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, Pokémon GO has taken the country by storm. Pokémon GO (or PoGo) is a GPS-enabled smartphone game based on Nintendo’s award-winning Pokémon series of hand held games, dating back to the original Gameboy system. In PoGo, players are encouraged to get outside and “catch ‘em all” using augmented reality. As you catch more Pokémon, your trainer levels up and different and rarer types of Pokémon appear for you to catch.

So why all the hubbub about a mobile game? Because PoGo itself requires players to get up, get off the couch, and walk around their neighborhood, shopping center, or downtown area, physically looking for Pokémon to capture. If you see throngs of people around the fountain in Daniel Morgan Square at night all with their phones out, you can bet they are playing PoGo.

According to expandedramblings.com as of July 19, 2016, PoGo had 26 million daily active users, averaging playing the game for 43 minutes at a time; seven out of 10 people that download PoGo return to the game the next day.

To me, the physical health benefits are great (there’s even an in-game mechanic where you can hatch a Pokémon egg only after you have walked a certain number of kilometers), but the social health benefits are astounding. We currently live in a social climate where Black Lives Matters protestors and police are at odds, and mass shootings are common, not to mention terror attacks. Yet in Downtown Spartanburg, people of all races are walking around getting exercise and actually talking to each other – with smiles on their faces!

So, before you pass judgment on a “silly kids game”, watch a couple YouTube videos about how to play the game, download it, and give it a shot (just make sure you have plenty of battery left on your phone and cell phone data to spare). You might lose a few pounds and gain a few friends. Happy hunting!