The London School of Economics has released a new study on the potential for mobile games to reduce depression, with Pokemon GO serving as the primary case study.
The research examined data from the game’s first release in 2016, with its staggered rollout over 166 locations in 12 countries, enabling them to form a “experimental” group where the game had been distributed and a “control” group where the game had not been released. The number of times depression-related phrases were searched for online was used to calculate depression levels using Google Trends data.
The study discovered that Pokemon GO was connected with a substantial drop in the number of searches for depression-related phrases in areas where it was launched vs areas where it was not released. The researchers think that location-based mobile games might help reduce local rates of depression by encouraging individuals to leave their homes for social contact, physical movement, and exposure to nature, all of which have been shown to improve mental health.
Co-author Dr Aaron Cheng of the LSE’s Department of Management
With the unpredictability we face on a daily basis, mental health is critical in both our personal and professional lives. Location-based mobile games, such as Pokémon Go, may help reduce sadness by encouraging face-to-face socialization, outdoor physical exercise, and exposure to nature, all of which are important for mental health.