Since its debut on July 6th,  Pokemon Go downloads have increased over 7 million times in the United States alone. Developed by Niantic, Pokemon Go is still highly anticipated in several countries as it releases into new regions still today. Bringing a factor of nostalgia from a 20-year-old franchise, Pokemon Go utilizes augmented reality and allows its players to catch Pokemon in real settings. To further blend the real world and virtual reality using the player's geolocation, Pokemon may appear in settings that suit them, such as water type Pokemon appearing on beaches or nocturnal Pokemon only emerging at night. As a result, the game app manages to bring an interactive twist onto many people’s favorite childhood game, addressing core psychological needs of which attribute to its success.

Promoting Exercise and Socialization

Cpg6v0sWIAAGbBwPamela Rutledge, the director of the Media Psychology Research Center in Newport Beach, California, says, Pokemon Go blends a game experience with real physical activity and real, in-person socialization. Much of the critique of gaming centers around its tendency to isolate players and force them to be sedentary, although many games have tried to breach the isolation with multiplayer options. Pokemon Go is unique in that it forces the player to move about and use their geolocation both to locate a certain type of Pokemon at a certain place as well as attain other goodies within the game, such as Pokemon eggs, which force the player to walk a certain distance in order to hatch them, pokeballs, berries, and more helpful items at pokestops. The pokestops themselves are often real life landmarks such as statures, paintings, and parks that many players admit to often overlooking if it had not been for the app.

 

What exactly has made Pokemon Go so successful and appeal to many players around the globe? Perhaps the ease of mental illnesses such as depression is apart of its appeal. The positive psychological effects of Pokemon Gos player interface include promoting exercise and going outside. Exercise has been proven by studies to help with depression, and the app promotes players to walk greater distances for greater rewards. By providing well-structured, clearly defined goals easy to achieve objectives that result in leveling up and more rewards helps keep people interested and engaged in the game. A combination of positive reinforcement and immediate feedback results in players, especially those with depression, to keep playing.

 

Ease of access to the game also factors into Pokemon Go s success. The screens players use must be portable in order for people to achieve the objective of the game: to capture Pokemon, of which are usually limited at a certain location unless the player moves. Pokestops are often a certain landmark and require the player to travel to them, especially at higher levels when poke balls become scarce in comparison to the amount of Pokemon needed to be captured to level up.

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Because of the games mobility, the game promotes players meeting other people playing the game with low-risk interaction. Many players upon identification by a mere glance of the screen or by simply asking will engage in small talk about the game itself. Of course, players also have the option to play on their own, and thus reduce much of the worries social anxiety brings about. Players can have a conversation about the game with an easy way in and out of the conversation without feeling judged or pressured to produce content that will appeal to everyone, factors that accompany other social media apps. The only way to deliver fun is to have players feel confident, give them a sense of exploration and connect them socially to others on those three very important counts, the game looks like it's succeeded, psychologist Andrew Przybylski of the Oxford Internet Institute states. Przybylski has studied which core attributes of gaming that lends to a successful title.

Future Implications

With a team of a dedicated staff constantly improving Pokemon Go with each new update and its recent release to island nations such as The Philippines, Vietnam, and Solomon Islands, the app is still undergoing its world-wide release to every corner on the globe. Bringing in more than $200 million in revenue since its release, Pokemon Go continues to be a success, with a promising future as more players register to become Pokemon trainers. Psychological fulfillments attribute to becoming one of the most downloaded apps as well as its 4.1-star rating on the U.S. Google Play Store. Only 151 out of the 721 Pokemon are currently available to be captured. Perhaps as Pokemon are released, the long-term psychological benefits can be further assessed in the future.

References

Baraniuk, Chris. "The Psychological Tricks behind Pokemon Go's Success."BBC. BBC, 11 July 2016. Web. 11 Aug. 2016.

Pappas, Stephanie. "The Psychology of 'Pokémon Go': What's Fueling the Obsession?" LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 12 July 2016. Web. 11 Aug. 2016.

Wei, Marylynn, M.D. "The Psychological Pros and Cons of Pokémon Go."Psychology Today. Psychology Today, 12 July 2016. Web. 11 Aug. 2016.

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