Pokemon Go changing the way BYU exercises

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A BYU student shows off their step-counter on their iPhone. Many BYU students are getting outside more to play Pokemon Go. (Izsie Robinson)
A BYU student shows off their step counter on their iPhone. Many BYU students are getting outside more to play Pokemon Go. (Izsie Robinson)

One student claims it has doubled, or even tripled, his activity levels. Another now spends 45 minutes per day running in order to play.

The game – a wild success by any standard – has soared to the top of gaming charts and captivated millions. It is considered an augmented reality (AR) game that encourages players to use technology to go into the world and catch all of the Pokémon they can.

It’s the going-out-into-the-world part that’s changing things.

“The last four days, I’ve woken up at 6:30 in the morning before I go to work and go on runs,” said BYU senior Ryan Chandler.

He spends 45 minutes running in an effort to catch more Pokémon, and he’s not alone.

“I’ve run into quite a few people doing the same thing,” Chandler said. “Pretty tell-tale when rather than doing runs, it’s more like doing sprints between the (game) stops.”

According to a Mayo Clinic estimate, someone that weighs approximately 200 lbs. will burn about 450 calories each day simply by playing the game while running for 45 minutes. That equates to burning around 450 calories each day simply by playing the game while running for 45 minutes.

The time that Chandler spends playing the game in the morning is actually close to average. Two days after the app launched, Digital Vision reported that players on Android devices were spending an average of more than 43 minutes per day playing.

That equates to more time spent playing the game than is spent on either Snapchat or Instagram during a day, and gameplay often translates to activity.

Another aspect of the game that has helped drive activity is the different teams that you can join while playing, according to Chandler.

“It’s really fun for people who are on your same team. You literally want to go together – you walk in packs of five or six,” Chandler said.

Junior David Jorgensen used his Samsung watch to track his activity after downloading Pokemon Go. (Izsie Robinson)
Junior David Jorgensen used his Samsung watch to track his activity after downloading Pokemon Go. (Izsie Robinson)

These groups can also work together to search for specific Pokémon.

Animation student Craig Brown agrees that the game is helping to bring people together — especially people who don’t normally spend time together.

“Normally I try to be fairly active by playing ultimate frisbee or something, but with Pokémon Go, it’s been easier to hang out and be more active outside with friends who don’t normally play those types of sports,” Brown said.

Brown believes that the game has doubled or tripled his activity levels.

Two big questions surround Pokémon Go: how long will it stay popular and will another company be able to replicate its success?

Chandler believes a lot of the users who have adopted the game will fall off within a short period of time, leaving a core user base that is extremely dedicated. Chandler will certainly be one of them – in high school, he was literally the number one player in the word in online Pokémon “battle simulator ladders.”

Any company wishing to replicate the success of Pokémon Go will need to inspire creativity and spark a sense of adventure, according to Brown and Chandler. It will also need to be something that captures imaginations, because, as Chandler said, “augmented reality helps that become more of a reality.”

Brown explained why he loves the game so much.

“It’s just really fun how you’re able to go out on your own adventure and make your own adventure — and how you’re able to share that with friends in a real way.”

Regardless of what happens in the next few weeks, one thing is clear: Pokémon Go is helping people become more active, and that isn’t a bad thing.

“Pokémon Go is one of the best things that’s happened to Provo in a long time,” Chandler said.

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