Pokémon Go: Fitness App of the Year

Can someone say overnight sensation? Niantic, Inc. along with Nintendo have truly produced a masterpiece - quite possibly a tour de force for many years to come in mobile gaming and even fitness apps. Yes, I said it…fitness apps!Are you like the many out in the world who are running all over the place scrambling to catch those pesky Pokémon who dip and dive to get away? Are you even looking to find legendary Pokémon - say Articuno? Maybe you are even tripping over yourself and friends to get that Pikachu off in the distance? Have you looked at your step meter after a day of hunting Pokémon?

For someone of my generation, this game brings me right back to my childhood. Remember at lunch when you would sit at a table and bust out those cards for a battle? In those days, you sweated over what cards to play and how to bring home the win. Well with Pokémon Go, you sweat because it actually requires you to get out and exercise.Let us remember that though we may be staring at our mobile phone screens way too long, we are actually getting great exercise in the process. That is part of the genius here Niantic has created. Pokémon Go, in its own way, has become what could be seen as a glorified Fitbit. I can confidently speak for many that we as gamers and even non-gamers alike couldn’t be happier with the experience. Could the game be better? Certainly yes but that does little to take away the inherent joy the game brings. Just think if all true fitness apps took a cue from Pokémon Go by developing a fully immersive, interactive experience far exceeding just simply counting and recording steps. We as users of these apps would witness a complete market evolution that could shape the mobile fitness landscape for years to come.Though the game is immensely fun, there have been a handful of bugs I’ve experienced thus far; most notably continuous server crashes, game freezes, and battling a gym with an unbeatable Pokémon. You grind to bring the Pokémon down to that tiny sliver of health and what happens? It simply won’t go down, so you rage quit and try again. Sure, every game and software release will have bugs but you have to look past these bugs and enjoy yourself. Bugs are simply a natural byproduct of the development life-cycle that must be accepted as commonplace, even with an app that has been so long in the making.The whole concept evolved out Niantic’s already smash hit augmented reality mobile game Ingress. Ingress entered the mobile gaming world in December 2013 and laid a fantastic foundation for Pokémon Go with its geo-location and intel map. The storyline with Ingress involves players working as a team to achieve specific goals while walking around out in their communities. Ingress has a huge worldwide following and is an app that got desk-bound techies off their butts and out walking and getting exercise. Without Ingress, Pokémon Go couldn’t be what it is so we owe mad props to Ingress!With this said, we must also give praise to Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri. Long before mobile phones as we know them today, Tajiri had the dream of creating a game incorporating his childhood hobby of insect collecting. This hobby was near and dear to Tajiri as a child so he got creative - he was really onto something. It wasn’t until now that the physical exploration involved in insect collecting could be emulated, pushing Pokémon into the fitness world. At its root, Pokémon keys on the human mind’s natural instinct to gather all things possible and does so with such grace. As developers, product developers and people working in tech, we can learn some great lessons from what Pokémon Go has brought us here. Not least of which is that a user’s passions and interests can be used to motivate healthier behavior.We live in a day where getting fit and staying healthy is ever-present in our minds, so keeping fitness at the forefront of an app concept can ultimately drive success. Simply playing Pokémon Go can greatly contribute to this fitness aspect and does so in its own very unique way. From the second you download Pokémon Go, you will be immersed in a never-ending quest to find all the Pokémon you possibly can - your mind won’t stop. You’ll even meet all kinds of people out doing the very same thing so you can find new friends to be active with - maybe even find your next date. The best fitness apps have a social aspect, after all. Now, go outside, be social, get walking and “Catch them all”!DOWNLOAD OUR FREE EBOOK for practical tools for designing great services in healthcare!

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