Pokemon Go: Increasing physical activity in the US, blockaded in China

Is Pokemon Go making you healthier? Maybe not yet, but researchers from a Stanford/Microsoft team have determined that Pokemon Go play correlates with increased physical activity and exercise. They tracked data from 32,000 Microsoft Band users for three months to determine that "engaged users" increased their activity on average nearly 1500 per day, allowing them to suggest that the MMOARG "added a total of 144 billion steps to US physical activity," in contrast to other "health" apps.

The paper is published in the high-impact open-access Journal of Medical Internet Research for those who want to read it in full without paywall. The authors do note that their sample is not random, as the Band is an expensive device, and most users were male. They also note that the study cannot comment on the long-term effects of physical activity.

In other PoGo news, the long-planned Chinese launch has been stymied by the government censor board's refusal to license it until it has properly evaluated the game's risks, such as what it's calling a "threat to geographical information security and the threat to transport and the personal safety of consumers."

This isn't the first time a foreign government has blockaded the game. You'll recall that last summer, members of the Russian government suggested that Pokemon Go was a video-collection spy tool for the CIA partly funded by intelligence services, which is way more awesome than the reality that it's just Niantic bumbling along. "It feels like the devil arrived through [Pokemon] and is trying to tear our morality apart from the inside," declared one member of parliament at the time.

Both countries -- the government itself, in the case of Russia -- are also developing their own ARG games, which we're sure is a total coincidence.

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