The latest mobile game craze to occupy the nation is Pokémon GO. It is a very clever app in which you get to capture, train and battle over 100 different Pokémon species. The interactive gaming platform created by Niantic has many similarities with dancing, but just how is Pokémon GO similar to dancing when they seem so vastly different concepts?
Both Pokémon GO and Dance have various skill ‘levels’. Players and Dancers both have to focus on learning new moves and techniques to get to the next level in skill. In Pokémon GO players gain levels by earning XP (experience points) through activities like throwing the perfect curved Pokémon ball, visiting Pokéstops, and battling other Pokémon trainers at Pokémon gyms. As Pokémon Trainers go up in levels they are granted more items and eventually become masters in the Pokémon GO world. Dancing is similar, a new routine and technique is taught in every class, and dancers have to master it before being moving onto the next class (level).. Each skill (move) builds upon one learnt previously, and the result is a highly skilled master dancer.
Pokémon GO and Dance both require students to use their imagination. During dance classes students have to actively engage their imagination in order to become the character in the dance routine. Dancers may learn a piece that requires them to be angry, cheeky or romantic. Because dance routines can vary greatly, dancers need to be truly creative and adaptive to match the feel of the routine they are learning.
With Pokémon GO, players are expected to stretch their imagination to believe that they are at Pokéstops and Pokémon Gyms in the augmented virtual world. Using the camera in mobile devices allows players to see wild Pokémon superimposed onto real environments, adding to the involvement and extending the creative imagination that players experience while being ‘in’ the game that is the Pokémon world.
Movement and Fitness
Unlike going to a gym and doing cross-fit, Pokémon GO and dance provide ‘accidental’ fitness benefits, as neither’s primary purpose is to ‘get fit’. Pokémon GO gets its players to actively explore the world around them as it encourages them to find Pokéstops (real-life landmarks) and hidden Pokémon using its map (which is just the local street directory). Players are unaware of the number of calories they are burning while they are hunting Pokémon through the streets and environments they are visiting. The first person to catch all 142 Pokémon walked an average of 8 miles (~13kms) per day for 2 weeks following its release! Other people have reported exercising for the first time in a long time, and even started to lose weight as a side benefit to wanting to go out and catch Pokémon. Pokémon GO also provides notifications of when a fitness level is achieved such as walking ten kilometers; this is an unexpected bonus for players wanting to get to fit.
During classes dancers are focused on learning new moves, improving their technique and having fun. However dancers are also strengthening and toning their muscles, increasing their flexibility and improving their cardiovascular health without even knowing it!
Gaming is normally fairly sedentary and technically you don’t have to leave the house to play Pokémon GO; Pokécoins can be used to purchase items that will attract Pokémon to the player’s location. However this new platform encourages players to socialise and creates connections with others through a common goal, catching all the Pokémon. When trainers reach Level 5 they are asked to go find and join a Pokémon Gym, which are actual locations where players can meet, bond, battle and train. Dance classes also create a social environment, where dancers are brought together to learn new moves, support each other and form friendships. Dancers and Pokémon trainers meet new people with the same passion and desire to bond and help each other to improve their skill level.
If you’re an avid Pokémon Go fan, it might be the engagement, socialising, creativity that you’re actually being attracted to, rather than just purely the desire to catch those rare Pokémon. If you’re interested in giving something a go that exhibits similar ‘benefits’ to Pokémon GO, why don’t you sign up for a free dance class and see just how similar dancing is to catching Pokémon. You might be surprised how much you enjoy it!
Reading this and still don’t know what Pokémon GO actually is all about? You can check it out here.