The popular augmented reality game Pokemon Go may boost physical activity in players over the age of 40, a study claims. Researchers from the University of Tokyo in Japan hope that the findings will inform urban planners and game designers to inspire people to be more active. Augmented reality is when apps and games overlay a real-time camera feed with images, characters and data to provide all kinds of interactive experiences.
As a part of a health programme, 2,580 participants were given pedometers which counted the steps they took in a day and were surveyed on matters including usage of location-based augmented reality games. From this pool of participants, 230 subjects were chosen with as much in common as possible to avoid other factors contributing to results. Forty-six of them were players of Pokemon GO, and 184 were not.
Game-makers and urban planners could factor what the University has learned into their respective activities. Pokemon GO succeeds where physical activity games do not because it’s a game first with potential added health benefits. It’s possible such games could serve as a gateway to further people’s enthusiasm for physical activity. Another hope is these results inspire urban planners to build more pedestrian areas into urban centres. Hino would like to explore further the connections between augmented reality games and their impact, not just on the physical activity itself but on attitudes towards exercise.