According to the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), walking around whilst playing location-based mobile phone games can relieve mild depression.
The study measured local depression levels through using Google Trends analytics, which revealed that depression-related terminology like “stress” and “anxiety” were at remarkably low levels when matched to hotspots used by Pokémon Go.
Conducted over 50 weeks in 2016 when the game was at a commercial watershed, a “control” or “median” group was ascertained to enable researchers to compare depression levels in these locations, using search terms.
The LSE’s report stated that “the use of internet search data is a well-established mechanism for measuring mild depression in medical and public health literature”.
Pokémon Go, as the case study, suggests location-based mobile games may decrease the prevalence of local rates of depression.
There is no direct evidence of similar games having a positive impact on mental health, but it is theorised by the LSE that being immersed in an interactive game can provide a welcome distraction for people with depression.
The findings highlight the mental health opportunities for location-based games to have a positive impact on vulnerable groups.
Due to their ease of use, relatively low cost and high accessibility, the researchers argue location-based games could be attractive subsidy targets for policymakers.