Over the past week, a new movement has begun to rise across neighborhoods and parks in a handful of countries. This phenomenon, known as Pokémon GO, is an app game based on Nintendo’s popular franchise of the same name, and it’s been responsible for getting several people outside to explore their neighborhoods. The results — though some can be scary — are mostly pleasant reminders that the world isn’t explicitly horrible, with photos of trainer gatherings at popular pokéstops dotting social media every day.
To make matters even better (for once), the game is reportedly helping people overcome anxiety and other mental health issues, bringing an array of players together under one common passion. Such has been the case for a few parents of autistic children, who have been sharing stories about the game easing their children into incredible social interactions.
A Reddit post detailed one such family, letting a screenshot tell the story of a mother who followed a friend’s suggestion, and it’s wonderful results.
“As a fellow Autistic. It’s amazing what this game has done for people,” said Team Valor and Redditor NoelDavies. “I’m so glad your friend’s son has found an outlet which enables him to bridge his social difficulties. God speed little buddy. Be the very best.”
Stories of Pokémon and its effect on players’ personal lives on such a scale hold a particular place of importance because of the person who created it all: Satoshi Tajiri, who has Asperger’s Syndrome. Perhaps this is the most poetic part of Pokémon GO; that folks who live similar lives to its recluse creator are excited to go outside, engage with others and explore, with the help of Tajiri’s own creations. In fact, it was because of Tajiri’s Asperger’s that Pokémon (and Tajiri’s popular brand, Game Freak, which started as a home-made zine) came to be in the first place.
While these results aren’t the case for every family or every situation, there is truly something beautiful about what Pokémon GO is doing to players using a little bit of nostalgia and mobile augmented reality.