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Why the public health sector couldn’t create Pokémon Go

OPEN Public health research & practice | 3 Aug 2017

B Freeman, J Chau and S Mihrshahi
Pokémon Go has been subject to much attention - from both the players that download the augmented reality game and the news media. Amid the exaggerated media reports, Pokémon Go may have unintended health benefits. Players have reported walking more, spending more time with family, experiencing improvements in their mental health and feeling more connected to their communities. It is hard to imagine public health researchers developing a similar game that is fun, taps into pop culture, reaches a wide target audience, makes use of physical and virtual environments, creates a sense of both competition and community, and has spin-off health benefits. Companies that endanger public health immediately recognised the value of the Pokémon Go app, and exploited it to advertise and promote consumption of unhealthy foods. Public health stakeholders need to develop mobile-based interventions within a framework that embraces pleasure, rewards, participation and community. Public health agencies need to be just as nimble and responsive as companies that are harmful to health, or forever be creating games that nobody plays.
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Health economics, Augmented reality, Health insurance, Health, Virtual reality, Health care, Public health
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