Every Pokémon trainer wants to be the best, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make friends along the way.
People who played the mobile game Pokémon Go are more likely to be more positive, friendly, and physically active than those who don’t, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison roughly a month after the game was released on Android and iOS.
While many people often see video games as an anti-social experience, Pokémon Go has been decidedly pro-social—and arguably pro-fitness—because it uses augmented reality to encourage players to explore outdoors and team up with users around them as they catch Pokémon. As a result, researchers found that players were more likely to make new friends and deepen existing friendships.
Interestingly, the study also showed that people who had social anxiety were not any less likely to play Pokémon Go, suggesting that playing the game could possibly improve interactions with others.
“The more people were playing, the more they were engaging in behaviors that reflected making new connections—making Facebook friends, introducing themselves to someone new, exchanging phone numbers with someone, or spending more time with old friends and learning new things about them,” researcher Alex James Bonus said. As such, Bonus suggests that there is probably more benefit in researching the positive outcomes of playing games, as opposed to how many studies focus on the negative.
Pokémon Go, created by Nintendo and Ninantic Labs, is still going strong almost one year later with over 65 million users. The app continues to get constant updates, with new generations of Pokémon being added as well as seasonal events.