Why the public health sector couldn't create Pokémon Go

Becky Freemana*, Josephine Chau, Seema Mihrshahi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2731724
Pages (from-to)1-3
Number of pages3
JournalPublic Health Research and Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2017. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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