Pokémon Go hasn’t even been out for a week – and is still only available in certain countries but the game has taken over the world, one smart phone at a time.

This new app is getting people moving, off their couch and learning about their neighbourhoods and cities.

Pokémon Go is the first smartphone release from The Pokémon Company, which has been looking after this multimillion-selling video game franchise since 1998. Developed by augmented reality specialist Niantic Inc, the developer behind Google’s experimental AR game Ingress, it’s a massive-multiplayer, location-based spin-off from the role-playing fantasy series.

SEE ALSO: Pokemon Go. This is all you need to know about the number 1 trending game.

Using a player’s smartphone camera and GPS signal, the game makes it seem as if wild Pokémon are cropping up on the streets of the real world. When walking around and exploring, players – or trainers as they are called in the game – are greeted with rustling bits of grass which signal a Pokémon’s presence.

Walking closer will trigger them to appear, and tapping on them will initiate a Pokébattle. With the optional augmented-reality turned on, it may look as if a Caterpie is peeking out from the grass just outside the front door, putting players right in the shoes of a Pokémon trainer.

But there’s more than just nostalgia at play.

There’s a magical world being created by Pokémon Go’s secret layer of monster catching, and it’s simply fun to suspend disbelief just a little and feel like you’re living somewhere where Pokémon lurk in parks and on sidewalks.

Some are calling Pokemon Go, the best exercise app out there but we’ve uncovered even more reasons we’re in love with the game!

Lots of exercise

It’s pretty much impossible to get very far in the game without moving around—a lot.

In order to catch Pokémon, you physically have to run around. Hours can pass as you walk around your backyard, run through the park, or jog around your cul-de-sac, hunting down Squirtle and Jigglypuff (imagine explaining that when you bump into your neighbour).

Aside from ambling about while tracking a nearby Pokémon (the game tells you what’s nearby and approximately how nearby), the game gives you another good reason to cover some pretty significant distances: to hatch Pokémon eggs.

When you get an egg, usually at a Pokéstop, you can place it in an incubator to wait for it to hatch. But the time it takes to hatch is up to you.

The first eggs you get require you to walk 2 km or 5 km for incubation to complete. It’s based on GPS location rather than steps, but driving doesn’t work unless, perhaps, you drive very, very slowly.

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It’s educational.

To catch Pokémon, you use Pokéballs, which you can get when you visit Pokéstops. And Pokéstops just happen to include many landmarks and historical markers, including those hidden ones in your own neighbourhood.

Pokéstops are like lucky dips for aspiring Pokémon trainers. Attached to places of interest – churches, memorial plaques, statues – they will “drop” loot like Pokéballs, snacks for Pokémon and medicines for battle-worn Pokémon.

In fact, historical, educational, artistic or architectural sites have been specifically chosen to be Pokéstops and gyms.

It offers mini mental breaks without getting too far off track.

It’s not new information that taking brief breaks throughout the work day are beneficial.

They prevent boredom, improve concentration, improve productivity and give you that necessary downtime to process what you’ve been doing and refocus when you return.

The problem is, a “quick” check of Facebook or Twitter or the news or even a Solitaire game can end up eating more time than you planned.

The beauty of Pokémon Go is that you can take a sincerely quick break, catch a critter or two, and then get back to work.

It brings people together—literally, in real life.

You’ve probably seen them by now. They shamble along, staring intently at their phones, stopping intermittently to excitedly swipe, or tap, or just shout excitedly at their screens before moving on.

No matter how strange, self-absorbed, or entirely out of place these people may seem, they all have one thing in common: They’re catching Pokémon.

Across social media, players have begun chiming in with their own stories of bonding with strangers while walking outside and playing the game.

In a world filled with mass shootings, corrupt politicians and so much hate, chasing after stupid imaginary creatures seems to be bringing people together more than anything else right now. And it’s something all ages can enjoy, even something that can bring couples and families together.

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Brent Lindeque
About the Author

Brent Lindeque is the founder and man in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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