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How Pokémon GO Is Helping With My Autism and Depression

So I’ve been playing a lot of Pokémon GO lately. Along with almost everybody else. I’m thinking this game is a unifying cultural phenomenon second only to Facebook.

There’s more Pokémon GO players than there are people on Twitter. Seriously.

I bet they invented this game to get kids and late-twentysomethings off our asses. They also want us to learn things. A lot of the best Pokémon are in parks and museums. (Tip: there’s a Charmander nest next to the Museum of Natural History.) I mostly see college kids hunting in groups. But I’ve also seen married couples and even a guy who looked like a park ranger looking for Pokémon with a bunch of people in their mid-thirties.

And of course most of my autistic friends have downloaded the game and are taking to it with great focus and Valor. Fuck that noise though. I’m Mystic.

Pokémon Go is good for people like us. Especially those of us who tend towards sloth. It helps us feel more connected. I can look around and know that I might not have much in common with the other people in the park regarding careers and goals and empathy; but we all want that Vaporeon. It’s even helped me start conversations.

Of course, video games are an easy thing to get addicted to. My repetitive behaviors and I better watch out. Aspies are detached anyway. We can’t always filter truth from fantasy. It’s important for us to remember that digital cockfighting is not an actual real-world accomplishment.

But it can provide one useful perspective.

For depressed people, it can be hard to even do one thing a day. We do have goals. But they seem huge and insurmountable. We tend to plan a ton of things and then just lie around not knowing where to start. Which leads to hours of wasted time and even more depression.

It’s the same for autistics. We have trouble with priorities. Our executive functioning problems make it so we don’t know where to begin.

Progress is cumulative though. In Pokémon GO, as in life, you can’t get to the next stage without going through the first one. Each step is small. But they add up. We move forward. One Eevee at a time.


*Image from

*You can also read about Pokémon GO helping autistic people at

How Pokémon GO Is Helping With My Autism and Depression

Gwendolyn Kansen

Gwen Kansen is a mental health writer in New York. She likes food, karaoke, and smart-but-campy books & TV. She's hoping to capture a little sliver of life on here that might not be the first thing you'd see.

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APA Reference
Kansen, G. (2016). How Pokémon GO Is Helping With My Autism and Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 9 Aug 2016
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