Wow… what a wonder week for Pokémon Go players in so many places around the world.

Last week I reported that my quiet evening walk at dusk around our local lake saw the car parks full and mobs of normally ‘stay at homes’ out and about in the winter fresh air chasing Pokémon. I was stunned that I counted 152 individual players as I circumnavigated the lake.

As the Glenn Frey song goes‘the heat is on’. Tonight’s count was 382 players, up by 251%!! in a week. Where will the number top out? When will the craze lose its popular status?

Eustress or ‘good stress’ appears to me to be the outcome for these players who appear to be having fun and de-stressing after a busy day at work or study.

A daily strategy we have taught stressed clients for many years is to spend 15 to 20 minutes going for a walk at the end of their work day in a local park, to shed their work stress before arriving home.

Who would have thought Pokémon Go, a type of Pervasive Game, lying at the intersection between location-based gaming and augmented reality gaming would in a very brief time frame create an outlet to support people to reduce their stress.

How wonderful that an augmented reality game that blends digital content into the real world has arrived to get people outside and into nature.

The developers of this new generation of Pokémon game obviously didn’t realise that the spin off from the game that would see some very excited and dedicated players getting themselves into ‘hot water’.

Warning! Wild Pokémon in the area was the lead to a story I heard on radio today when I was driving to an appointment. The reporter related some great stories in what I felt was quite amusing.

The way in which the game tags important locations has also caused problems for the unlucky owners of properties inadvertently designated as in-game “gyms”, causing players to trespass and loiter.

The game was initially launched only in Australia and New Zealand, following on to the United States, but eager players elsewhere have found workarounds for these location limitations.

There are millions of very keen players in Indonesia and the game has not yet been released there. The Police Minister today released an order forbidding police officers playing Pokémon Go while working as it is time wasting and the officers were not focusing on the job.

Several features of the app are location-dependent, requiring players to be physically present at that location to trigger a game event. Whereas most of the time, this offers players an opportunity to explore and discover new outside locations, it also creates awkward situations. A French tourist in Java yesterday who wandered onto an Indonesian Airforce Base and was initially arrested as a terrorist. A few hours later they realised he was only an overzealous Pokémon Go player.

A police station in Darwin was tagged as a PokéStop which is a landmark where players can get resources to capture more Pokémon. This caused officers to publish a warning on their Facebook page that it was not necessary to actually enter the building to obtain in-game benefits.

Last night I saw a television clip of an area in Bosnia and Herzegovina that was condoned off with special marking tape, WARNING – ACTIVE LAND MINES – KEEP OUT, where police were calling to excited Pokémon Go players to exit very carefully.

Despite the hiccups along the way, Pokémon Go has successfully brought pervasive gaming into the mainstream, and most of all, brought millions of people around the world into nature.

The game as a de-stressing tool and a generator of eustress into peoples’ lives is refreshing.

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