Health: How experience-based Pokémon Go changed the game


You may capture a Mewtwo (or two) or even evolve a Pikachu. But are you lowering your heart rate? Are you increasing your daily step count? Are you staying emotionally centered?

When Metametrix Data looked at online conversation around Pokémon Go, the year’s most popular game, we found a striking amount of chatshare swirling around an unexpected topic: Health.



  1. Comfort
  2. Control
  3. Fear
  4. Adventure
  5. Affluence


    1. Experience
    2. Fresh
    3. Friendship
    4. Inspiration
    5. Family


The overall conversation around Pokémon Go values centered around comfort (characters like Bulbasaur and Charmander are like a warm hug to some Millennials) and adventure (the game has people getting up off their couches).

But things get much more interesting when you see what portion of the Pokémon Go conversation focuses on what the game might mean to kids’ (or your own) well-being. Health popped up as a major theme in conversation around the game, with commentary ranging from wary (people are walking into traffic!) to supportive (kids are walking around!). Within that conversation of health, we saw the value of experience pop up most frequently. As a game that requires you to walk in the real world, to mesh digital game elements with physical ones, the idea that PG engages people more holistically is closely connected to our need to get up off the couch. Additional topics in the broader health conversation include friendship and family. Though it’s not required to be so, Pokémon Go has proven to be a social game that can strengthen bonds between friends and get families out and moving around together. Those connections, in the context of health, are not often seen when discussing run-of-the-Xbox videogames.

What we learned

Americans worry about what modern indoor culture means for their families’ health. Phenomena that combine digital fun with real-world adventure make us rethink the health possibilities of gaming. They also help us make sense of what new technology means to us at the most fundamental level — our well-being.

Games and gaming hold a unique place in the culture. Their implications are beyond entertainment or time-wasting, and the people who love gaming represent all demographic groups. Pokémon Go is a cultural phenomenon and the summer of 2016’s funnest fad. But it’s also an indicator that people are seeing videogames as more than entertainment: They’re thinking about the implications for health, family life and more.


Pokémon Go: It’s free to download. [Image via edowoo]

Time period: Data gathered July 2016;