Playing what is probably the most popular game recently will add days to your average life expectancy but only if you keep it up indefinitely says the latest study done by Microsoft and Stanford University researchers. Well what do you know, gaming can actually make us healthier and live longer! Who’d knew?!
According to the research when you play the Pokemon GO it adds up to 144 billion steps collectively to your daily step count, which translates to additional 192 steps per day for the individual gamer. They used some extrapolation and came up with the result of “41.4 days of additional life expectancy” assuming that players from 15 to 49 keep playing the game at that rate indefinitely. Not only that the game itself prolongs your life it also has an ability to improve public health. Since the hardened players are mostly on the US soil researchers made an estimate which says that “this would translate to 2.825 million years additional life added to US users”.
This is of course a very far fetched study, for one because it only tracked users for 30 days from the point researchers thought that people started and ended playing the game, and the other reason is that this game, as well as others, have a tendency of a passing whim which makes it pretty much impossible to predict results that far in the future. The news that is going to back this up is that the Niantic (a firm spun out from Google) is already suffering the loss of players. Although it is still very popular the number of players has gone down for more than 10 million since the peak of 45 million that they had sometime mid July.
One more thing makes this study shaky in the foundations and that is usage and tracking a pretty much bias population that was willing and able to by a fitness tracking device (Microsoft Band) and share information with Microsoft. Result of this is that only 32.000 people were included in the study from July until August this summer. What additionally thinned down the heard available for research from 32.000 to around 1.420 players is the method of combining search engine data with wearable data. They narrowed down mentioned people as players of Pokemon Go according to their search logs (you guessed it right, using Microsoft Bing).
This is of course a nice try from Microsoft, but a lot of unknowns is left behind and a lot of unresearched ground. It is a nice start though, and the reality is that the Augmented reality games are likely to stick around for a long time, but you also must be cautious playing them. As the Fortune nicely put it – “Despite touting longer lifespans, the study did not assess how much life a person might waste away patrolling the world for make-believe critters. And it failed to mention the possibility of getting hit by a moving vehicle, or stumbling into some other fatal accident, while having one’s head buried in a phone screen and hunting for virtual monsters”.