THE outrageously popular new app Pokemon Go has come under harsh criticism since its release for posing a possible hazard to its users.
But Hervey Bay academic Rory Mulcahy said the app had many positive benefits for its users, including increased physical activity and social interaction.
Dr Mulcahy, a lecturer in marketing at the University of the Sunshine Coast's Fraser Coast campus.
Dr Mulcahy's research interests include applying the principles of gaming to areas outside of leisure and recreation, including health, education and marketing.
The university introduced Australia's first Bachelor of Serious Games this year.
"What is interesting is that Pokemon Go is not a serious game," Dr Mulcahy said.
"It was created purely for entertainment, but it is having incidental positive health benefits by forcing people to move around to hunt down virtual creatures."
Dr Mulcahy said he had downloaded the app and had been hunting down Pokemon himself.
He said driving from Brisbane to the Fraser Coast, he had witnessed the positive effects of the app across several communities.
Dr Mulcahy said the way the app worked had changed the way gaming had been viewed for decades - as something done indoors and somewhat anti-social.
"Where once online games were seen as a weapon of evil - filled with violence and encouraging kids to sit around eating junk good and playing games - they can now be seen as a weapon for good."
Dr Mulcahy said he wouldn't be surprised to see a lot more apps like Pokemon Go.
"It is the way of the future and people can expect the Pokemon Go phenomenon to trigger a range of similar virtual games that cross over into the real world."
Dr Mulcahy's PhD focused on the use of mobile apps and avatars to encourage behaviours such as rail safety and stopping smoking.
"Players are having so much fun they don't realise that they are either incidentally performing behaviours or they are incidentally learning about something as well."
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