Pokémon Go as a tool in the fight against mental disorders

Probably today, almost everyone will know about the video game franchise Pokemon, Either for these, or for its animated series, for its comics, for its collectible card games or for one of its wide range of derivative products. But without a doubt, the biggest milestone of this franchise has been the release of its first mobile video game called Pokémon Go.

What therapeutic opportunities does Pokémon Go offer us?

Pokémon Go is an application for Android and iOS operating systems in which its main attraction is its gameplay in augmented reality, through which, using the camera and the GPS of the smartphone, we can capture Pokémon while we walk in the street. the psychologist Adrián Triglia already commented in another article on several of the features of the game that turned Pokémon Go into a kind of global fever.

It’s a video game that has very simple mechanics, just looking at the phone, throwing Pokéballs with a goal and caps sometimes, but the key mechanics are the collectibles, taking advantage of a universe already known as the name of Pokémon.

An unprecedented revolution

The revolution caused by the release of this video game was totally unexpected and unique. It has increased in just seven days, the shares of Nintendo (main developer of Pokémon) by 93%, which is a historic milestone in the history of video games. As a result, Nintendo has promised to release the results for the first fiscal year between April and June on July 27, in order to publicize the milestone.

On the social level, the impact of Pokémon Go has been totally incredible, Populate the streets of the whole world with young people (and not so young) with their smartphones to capture Pokémon, Cause high concentrations of young people in parks and monuments without causing major disturbances. Without going any further, we have the example of the massive concentration of people in Central Park, only for the appearance of a rare Pokémon. We leave a link here for more information about the event.

At this point, many people can be alarmed by these events, suppressing this phenomenon as madness, but it is important and interesting to analyze the advantages that this video game can have as a tool to, for example, treat diseases or disorders. given its impact.

Discover the therapeutic power of Pokémon Go

There are many accidents and curious anecdotes caused by the Pokémon Go phenomenon that have become known these days. What people don’t really know is that there are already cases of people suffering from a series of mental disorders who through social media reveal that this video game is helping them fight their problems, as we show. John M. Grohol in an article published on the Psychcentral blog.

The truth of all this is that Pokémon Go is fast becoming one of the most powerful tools in the world, capable of taking millions of people on long walks; which is a lot more than any other fitness app has managed to do. But beyond the cardiovascular applications that this video game can have, it can also have a strong implication in the treatment of mental disorders like those of anxiety or depressive images.

Side effects: Nintendo’s video game could fight depression

Depressive disorders, generally according to the DSM-V (2013), are characterized by depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure from much of the activity, lack of appetite, insomnia or hypersomnia , excessive fatigue, etc.

Thanks to the contribution of many people on social networks, we can see how Pokémon Go, thanks to the revolution it has brought about, leads many people with depression to take to the streets to capture Pokémon and exercise, To ensure that the mood of the latter improves and increases their appetite thanks to the exercise carried out, which causes a regulation of the sleep and an activation of the body during long walks which eliminates the “false” fatigue suffered by These persons.

Pokémon Go against anxiety and social phobia

For people with anxiety, the benefits are just as amazing. Anxiety-related disorder, more common in the non-adult population, generally presents as a social phobia, currently referred to as social anxiety disorder according to the DSM-V (2013).

this disorder it is characterized by intense fear or anxiety during the exposure of the individual who suffers from it, In social situations where there are more people than those around you. This generally leads to evasion and avoidance behaviors, leading the individual to confine himself to his home because of the great fear he feels.

Thanks to the strong sense of community that has been generated among Pokémon Go players and the great sense of inclusion they experience, the prosocial behaviors exercised between them lead many people with social phobia issues to overcome their fears. Faced with their fears to capture Pokémon and be doubly rewarded with video game rewards and great worldwide acceptance among “trainers”, it is to make the game a very powerful tool to overcome or alleviate these difficulties.

Some conclusions and thoughts

It is still too early to establish causal relationships between Pokémon Go and the psyche of people because at the moment this video game offers a still limited experience. However, the initial impact, as can be seen, was historic and succeeded in creating a movement that eludes what is established so far in the gaming community, Move the playing environment from the room or the dining room to the streets of the city and produce, in a very short time, experiences of overcoming people with mental disorders of the depressive or anxious type.

Since the path to Pokémon Go has only just begun, its possibilities are still unknown. However, we know that with proper use, this video game could become a turning point in the use of these as therapeutic tools to treat mental disorders. Without a doubt, the research carried out through this movement will be very productive and interesting for the whole community of psychologists.

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