Pokémon Go & Player Motivation

In this research, I presented a critical analysis of Pokémon Go players’ experience from an online survey filled in by 32 participants. The goal of this research is to get a glimpse of Pokémon Go players’ motivation, their play patterns and experience, and an understanding of their self-reported behavior changes and concerns. The results revealed both negative and positive outcomes of the gamification approach Pokémon Go adopted.


Pokémon Go™ allows players to catch and train Pokémon in the wild through a mobile Augmented Reality (AR) game. Numbers of people are willing to be physically active for long periods of time to catch the Pokémons. Further, the medical and public health communities are also curious if this game has triggered more active levels of sustainable Physical Activity (PA) or behavior changes for health benefits.


An online questionnaire exploring Pokémon Go players’ experience was designed to figure out their motivations and play patterns. The online survey was filled in by 32 participants from multiple countries with varied backgrounds.


Results tell us that most players’ initiative is to catch and COLLECT all Pokémons, and they enjoyed playing it physically and virtually with other players. The participants would prefer to play it with someone they familiar with. Although AR is an attractive bonus players like, its simple mechanics and repetition of the game content turn players bored quickly.
For behavior changes related questions, most players thought the game kept them physically active, and playing Pokémon Go facilitates their connections with people around them. The downside is that majority of the participants rated they hold their cell phones much longer than before. For chances meeting new people, players posed a neutral attitude and desire. However, lots of participants worried about safety and privacy issues.


Overall, Pokémon Go benefits its players with increased PA, social connectivity, and outdoor activity. However, players hold negative effects attitudes towards safety and privacy concerns, time commitment, and its game mechanics design. Ironically, on one hand, players’ PA can be increased through playing the game; on the other hand, they spend the same amount of time looking at cell phones while neglecting the real environment to an extent.


Tong, X., Gupta, A., Lo, H., Choo, A., Gromala, D., & Shaw, C. D. (2017, February). Chasing Lovely Monsters in the Wild, Exploring Players’ Motivation and Play Patterns of Pokémon Go: Go, Gone or Go Away?. In Companion of the 2017 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW), pp. 327-330.


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