Players were more likely than non-players to be making new friends and deepening old friendships. (Reuters)
Pokemon Go players are more likely to be positive, friendly and physically active than non-players, says a new study. Players of the wildly popular mobile game “catch” wild, virtual Pokemon creatures lurking in places like parks and public buildings, and train them to do battle against one another.
The researchers wanted to study the effects of augmented reality games — like Pokemon Go — that make use of mobile technology to lay the playing field and rules over the real world. “There’s this idea that playing games and being on your phone is a negative social experience that detracts from things, but there haven’t been many chances to ask large groups of players about their experiences,” said one of the researchers James Alex Bonus from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US.
The researchers surveyed about 400 people three weeks after the game was launched, asking questions about their emotional and social lives and levels of physical activity before segueing into Pokemon. More than 40 percent of their respondents turned out to be Pokemon Go players, and those people were more likely to be exercising — walking briskly, at least — and more likely to be experiencing positive emotions and nostalgia, said the study published in the journal Media Psychology.
“For the most part, the Pokemon Go players said more about positive things that were making them feel their life was more worthwhile, more satisfactory, and making them more resilient,” Bonus said. They were also more social. Players were more likely than non-players to be making new friends and deepening old friendships. “The more people were playing, the more they were engaging in behaviours that reflected making new connections — making Facebook friends, introducing themselves to someone new, exchanging phone numbers with someone, or spending more time with old friends and learning new things about them,” Bonus said.
Pokemon Go creator Niantic now claims 65 million regular users and more than 650 million app downloads since its release in July 2016.