The false lure of Pokemon Go walking

pokemon-goPokemon Go is a phenomenon because it’s the first computer game I can remember that’s being actively encouraged by parents.

The chances are you know someone playing Pokemon Go; and  if you are the parent of a teenager the likelihood starts approaching 100%. And many parents are actually pleased this is happening because it gets their kids walking.

There’s no denying that there’s walking involved in Pokemon Go, and that walking is a good thing. But before we all get too excited it’s important to remember that this isn’t quality walking – there’s no appreciation of the exercise, no appreciation of the place; this isn’t a breeze in your hair and the Sun on your face experience.

Pokemon Go walking is the textbook definition of extrinsic motivation. People are walking to catch Pokemons and for the buzz they get by competing. The motivation is the same as playing Farmville or Clash of Clans and it’s not going to transfer to a joy of exercise.

Pokemon Go is both cool and accessible so it’s taken the World by storm. But it is a fad, and like my generation’s Yo-Yos and Rubiks Cubes it’s not likely to last. So the idea that this is anything more than an ephemeral burst of exercise overlayed on yet another addictive farming game is one that should be critically examined. Sure it’s better people are walking than sitting while gaming – but don’t assume that that will translate into a permanent love of walking or that the game will keep them walking for ever.

We might not be able to make fast food healthier or discourage the gluttony our culture reveres, but we can make walking less unpleasant.
Dave Schilling, The Guardian, Is Pokemon Go the Answer to America’s Obesity Problem

Play the game because you enjoy it, encourage your kids to play while the exercise opportunity lasts, but don’t justify it like it’s going to create generation fitness and cure obesity.

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