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Background: Pokémon GO is the most played augmented reality game in history. With more than 44 million players at the peak of its popularity, the game has sparked interest on its effects on the young population’s health. Objective: This pilot study examined motivations to start playing Pokémon GO among a sample of US college students, and how motivations were associated with perceived outcomes of the playing experience and physical activity derived while playing. Methods: In November 2016, we asked a sample of 47 US college students (all Pokémon GO players) to complete online surveys and install an ecological momentary assessment (EMA) tool and step counter on their smartphones. The EMA tool prompted a set of questions on playing behavior and physical activity, 3 times per day (12:00 PM, 7:00 PM, and 10:00 PM), for 7 days. We used a factorial analysis to identify 3 distinctive groups of players based on their motivations to start playing Pokémon GO. We tested differences across motivation groups related to 5 unique outcomes using 1-way analysis of variance. Results: We extracted 3 interpretable factors from the clustering of motivations to start playing Pokémon GO: Pokémon and video game fans (n=26, 55% of the sample), physical activity seekers (n=8, 17%), and curious & social (n=13, 28%). The clusters differed significantly on the enjoyment of different aspects of the game, particularly battling, discovering new places, and meeting new people, as well as differences in agreement that playing improved mood and made them more social. Days when playing Pokémon GO were associated with higher number of steps reported at the end of the day, especially among physical activity seekers, but also for Pokémon and video game fans. All groups perceived traffic as a major threat to playing. Conclusions: Days during which Pokémon GO was played were positively associated with a set of beneficial health behaviors, including higher physical activity levels, more socialization, and better mood. Results, however, depended on personal motivations and expectations when joining the game. These results highlight the importance of taking motivation into account when attempting to extract conclusions from the Pokémon GO phenomenon to enhance future exergames’ designs or health interventions. (JMIR Serious Games 2017;5(4):e21) doi: 10.2196/games.8048 KEYWORDS Pokémon GO; physical activity; excercise; exergames; gaming outcomes; games, recreational; motivation activity levels have been declining worldwide. Adults and Introduction children in many countries around the world are not reaching recommended amounts of physical activity . Early research Worldwide, governments, health advocates, and public health suggests that playing Pokémon GO appears to increase daily researchers have been exploring programs and interventions to promote regular physical activity . Despite this, physical http://games.jmir.org/2017/4/e21/ JMIR Serious Games 2017 | vol. 5 | iss. 4 | e21 | p. 1 (page number not for citation purposes) XSL FO RenderX JMIR SERIOUS GAMES Marquet et al physical activity levels, particularly among groups that have online video games , and injury risk is often a product of low levels of activity: teens, preteens, and younger adults . having distracted players in flawed public spaces that have long neglected pedestrians . Pokémon GO is a free-to-play, location-based augmented reality mobile game based on the popular video game series. The game Overall, the game has many potential benefits that need proper was launched by Niantic, Inc in collaboration with Nintendo research for validation and future interventions. To our Co, Ltd in July 2016 in both Apple Inc’s iOS App Store and knowledge, only a handful of studies have investigated the Google Inc’s Play Store. It involves capturing virtual characters, effects of playing Pokémon GO, establishing some links between or Pokémon, that have been placed in prominent, real public playing and physical activity [4,5,21], and playing and risky locations, such as streets, parks, and other notable public behavior . However, other aspects relevant to Pokémon buildings and spaces. The game allows players to create their GO’s popularity and public health remain completely virtual avatar and uses a mobile device’s global positioning unexplored. Among the most relevant are establishing what system capability to display the player’s current geographic motivates people to begin and continue playing (or interacting location on a map. with) the game, what their expectations and intentions are while playing, and whether the playing experience meets these Pokémon GO is one among several recent augmented reality expectations and intentions. These questions are particularly games that offer new ways to interact with the physical important if we want to use gaming to improve future health surroundings using a smartphone . The physical activity interventions. In that regard, and before Pokémon GO appeared, component of the game, which requires players to walk and Tong et al  demonstrated how individuals respond explore their surroundings using a detailed map of their differently to various gamification strategies. More recently, neighborhood, led to several research opportunities on the Chia-Chen and Liu  demonstrated that Pokémon GO players potential benefits of Pokémon GO for youth and millennials. are far from being a unified group when it comes to playing Among potential benefits, physical activity has been the most motivations. Part of the huge popularity of the game relies on cited [4-8], as the active lifestyle promoted by Pokémon GO is its attraction for people seeking different kinds of experiences. seen as a potential intervention to tackle the obesity and While first adopters might overwhelmingly be original Pokémon inactivity epidemic [9,10]. What makes Pokémon GO fans drawn to the game by their love of the franchise characters, particularly powerful and different from other kinds of once the popularity of the game reached a critical mass, many exergames  is its attraction to people through game other people joined seeking either the social aspect or the mechanics, making physical activity a secondary, or exploration experience, or even out of curiosity for the game unintentional, behavior. The motivation and engagement of or the phenomenon itself. Distinguishing the drivers that lead Pokémon GO players thus come not from turning physical different people to the game, and their staying power, is thus activity into a game, but from a game with its own purpose that crucial to understand player behavior and preferences. Together incorporates being active as part of the gaming experience. with this, research in media psychology demonstrates how Together with physical activity and motor skills, the game attitudes and experiences that motivate people to take part in a encourages players to explore their local communities and in game can also modify the outcomes of such games . the process may introduce them to new spaces . This has led This study aimed to fill the gap in knowing why players feel some to believe that Pokémon GO increases location awareness attracted to Pokémon GO, together with understanding the and public space use, and thus increases opportunities for social particular aspects of the game that best fulfill their motivations. interaction within these spaces . This capacity to increase We aimed to examine whether motivations correlated with social capital and establish new social networks through playing perceived outcomes of playing and perceived risks encountered while being outside is also promising for mental health benefits when playing Pokémon GO. Finally, we intended to use step [13,14], as social engagement linked to online gaming has been counts derived from smartphone data to examine whether found to decrease perceived loneliness and depression . In physical activity levels attained while playing Pokémon GO the particular case of Pokémon GO, the lack of an in-game chat would fluctuate dependent on the motivations that led each app—a feature that other exergames include—makes players specific player to the game. Findings on players’ behavior will engage with one another via face-to-face communication and inform future interventions through active games and exergames, eliminates any possible alternatives via text messaging, which enabling developers to design and tailor future games to target may be altering the socialization patterns usually seen in other specific needs. online exergames. Finally, other potential outcomes may include better intergenerational relationships, as parents and their Methods children engage together in outdoor activities , and increased knowledge of local patrimonial locations. Recruitment The rapid popularization of the game, which makes it the first We recruited participants using the university recreation listserv augmented reality game with real global acceptance , has of North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, also raised some awareness of the risks players are creating or USA, with more than 8000 undergraduate student email encountering [17,18]. These are mainly focused on the addictive addresses. The initial message stated the aim of the project and nature of the game  and injury risk to players . However, invited undergraduate students to participate in a study involving these are not risks associated only with Pokémon GO, as the use of Pokémon GO and physical activity. We invited both risk of addiction has long been associated with some types of players and nonplayers to participate. We offered entrance in a http://games.jmir.org/2017/4/e21/ JMIR Serious Games 2017 | vol. 5 | iss. 4 | e21 | p. 2 (page number not for citation purposes) XSL FO RenderX JMIR SERIOUS GAMES Marquet et al raffle of 8 gift cares worth US $50 as an incentive for those 3 factors with eigenvalue >1. Principal axis factoring and completing all required steps in the study, which included 2 varimax rotation were used in deriving the results. We used surveys and the completion of 7 days of ecological momentary means and standard deviations, together with 1-way analysis assessment (EMA). Recruitment occurred in early November of variance (ANOVA), to analyze the differences between group 2016. After 1 week, we posted the same email message in an scores in several different outcomes. Outcomes included in the email from the student body president as part of a digest email analysis were enjoyment with different aspects of Pokémon GO including other topics. No additional recruitment efforts were (measured on a Likert scale ranging from 1 to 4); spatial included. All research protocols have been approved by North awareness while playing (1-4 Likert scale); and threats Carolina State University (Institutional Review Board no. 9242). encountered while playing (multiple responses from a list). We obtained written consent from all participants and stored Finally, we also considered media effects by asking how playing the collected data on restricted computers in password-protected Pokémon GO had made players more physically active, files. improved their mood, and increased social interactions (1-4 Likert scale). We used 1-way ANOVA and chi-square tests to Study Design test differences in means and distributions. We used post hoc Participants were asked to answer an initial online survey to Tukey tests on those variables with statistically significant collect demographics, weekly physical activity, and activity difference in group means to confirm where the differences habits regarding smartphone, video game, and social networks occurred between groups. Finally, between- and use, together with their Pokémon GO playing habits. We within-participants 1-way ANOVA were used to analyze assessed physical activity using the International Physical differences between groups on the total amount of physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) Short Form . We then activity recorded at the end of the playing or nonplaying days converted the metabolic equivalent tasks (METs) reported (time=10:00 PM). through the IPAQ questionnaire into kilocalories of energy expenditure through the formula 1 MET=1 kcal/kg/h . We Results determined Pokémon GO playing habits through questions regarding playing frequency (number of days per week), time Study Population (played minutes per day), and time management (how they A total of 123 students replied to our emails expressing interest managed their playing time). Participants were also asked to to participate. Because we did not know the actual number of download a step-counting app (PACER; Pacer Health Inc) to email recipients actually reading the recruitment text, we were their smartphones together with an EMA app ([PACO]; Paco unable to calculate an accurate response rate. The overall study Developers). PACER  is one of many step counters that use recruited both players and nonplayers. Among the final sample smartphone-enabled accelerometers to estimate daily steps. We of 123 respondents, 49 had to be discarded because either they chose PACER due to its simplicity and low battery consumption. didn’t answer the first online survey or they provided insufficient PACO  was developed as a basic EMA tool for research EMA data. From the 74 remaining participants, 27 identified and has been previously used in studies . Over a 7-day as nonplayers during the initial online survey and 47 identified period, the PACO app would prompt a brief questionnaire 3 as players. times per day (12:00 PM, 7:00 PM, and 10:00 PM). Questions The study population (n=47) included 24 males with an average asked about playing behavior during the preceding time period, age of 19.8 years, and 23 females with an average age of 19.1 including whether they had played, where they had played, with years. The most frequent ethnicity was white (n=33) followed whom they had played, how they travelled to the playing site, by Asian (n=10). Most participants where between their and in which environment they had played. The final question freshman (n=21) and sophomore year (n=14). All of the on the PACO questionnaire involved reporting the actual number participants had experience playing Pokémon GO prior to the of steps recorded by the step counter. start of the study. They had been playing Pokémon GO for a At the end of the 7-day period, we asked participants who median of 122 days (SD 18.1) before the start of the study. self-identified as Pokémon GO players to answer a final online Factor Analysis survey with information regarding their motivations and perceived outcomes from playing Pokémon GO. Participants Together, the list of factors obtained through the factor analysis who completed a minimum of 80% of the potential EMA accounted for 60.5% of the variance among the 9 motivation responses were entered in a raffle for 1 of 4 gift cards worth US variables listed (Table 1). The first factor scored highly on “I’m $50. a Pokémon fan” and “I like video games,” which we collectively grouped into Pokémon and video game fans. They likely Statistical Analysis represent the first wave of players, attracted by the contents of To capture the multiple factors encouraging people to play the game itself. The second factor scored highly on “to walk Pokémon GO, we used a factor analysis to sort the underlying more” and “for exercise.” We grouped these as physical activity motivations to start playing Pokémon GO. Factor analysis seekers and hypothesized they were attracted to the game by reduces the number of input variables to a manageable number. the numerous reports that claimed playing was beneficial for Using a multiple response question list of 9 factors from which physical activity. Finally, the third factor scored highly on a participants could choose to answer as many as they liked, we variety of answers, unrelated to the physical activity or the extracted 3 interpretable factors that exhibited the clustering of contents of the game. In particular, the scores were higher for motivation for different types of players. We chose to retain the “To learn about my city” and “To meet new people,” with http://games.jmir.org/2017/4/e21/ JMIR Serious Games 2017 | vol. 5 | iss. 4 | e21 | p. 3 (page number not for citation purposes) XSL FO RenderX JMIR SERIOUS GAMES Marquet et al curiosity about the technology and the phenomenon itself also scoring highly. We referred to these as the curious & social. Table 1. Analysis loadings and summary for factors encouraging people to play Pokémon GO . Why did you start playing Pokémon GO? Factor 1. Pokémon and video game fans 2. Physical activity seekers 3. Curious & social (n=26) (n=8) (n=13) For exercise .716 To walk more .872 I was curious about the technology .575 I was curious about people playing .589 To learn about my city .755 I’m a Pokémon fan .822 I like video games .599 To meet new people .754 I was encouraged by others .680 Summary statistics Eigenvalue 8.6% 15.5% 35.3% Initial eigenvalue 1.12 1.82 3.54 12.4% 20.3% 39.2% Percentage of variance Only loadings >0.40 are shown. Keiser-Meyer-Olkin=.682; Bartlett <0.001. Cumulative percentage of variance captured by factors = 60.5%. There were no significant differences in the demographic the study), physical activity seekers were drawn to the game composition of each cluster, as Table 2 shows. Pokémon and much later and had only 100 days of experience at the start of video game fans tended to be male, with the highest proportion the study. of Asian American students. Although differences were not Gaming Experience and Perceptions significant, Pokémon and video game fans tended to be less The different underlying motivations to play Pokémon GO are active (having the lowest energy expenditure in kcal/week reflected in both the gaming experience and the perceived reported among the 3 groups, at 2850 kcal). This group reported behavioral outcomes of the game. Table 3 displays players’ playing between 4 and 5 days per week, accumulating 120 perceptions regarding the factors in terms of what aspects they minutes of play per week. The physical activity seekers showed enjoyed and their perceived threats experienced while playing. an equal balance between sexes, were predominantly white, and Players could select as many enjoyment factors as they wanted were the youngest of the 3 groups, being either freshman or and, on average, catching Pokémon and playing along with sophomore in class standing (generally 18-20 years of age). friends were the highest-rated aspects of the game. These scores, They were also the most active group overall, but reported however, varied across motivation clusters. The clusters differed playing only 3 days per week for a total of 59 minutes per week. Finally, the curious & social group were predominantly white significantly on the rating of battling (χ =15.4, P<.001), (2,n=47) females and 20 years of age on average. They reported almost 2 discovering new places (χ =11.5, P=.003), and meeting (2,n=47) 6 days of play per week and logged a total 120 minutes of play new people (χ =20.9, P<.001). In all 3 cases, post hoc (2,n=47) per week. tests revealed that the curious & social group had a significantly Of all analyzed variables, only the accumulated experience higher rating. While Pokémon and video game fans and physical playing Pokémon GO at the start of the study was significantly activity seekers rated these 3 particular aspects very low, these different between groups. A post hoc test (Tukey) showed that were highly valued items for the enjoyment of the curious & the physical activity seekers differed significantly (P<.001) social group. from the 2 other groups in the accumulated gaming experience The 3 groups did not differ significantly on encountering threats. before joining the study. While Pokémon and video game fans Nearly half of the players (49%) reported encountering some and curious & social players started playing Pokémon GO kind of threat while they were playing, with the presence of shortly after the launch of the game (accumulating a median of traffic (n=16, 34%) and poor walking conditions (n=14, 30%) 122 and 123 days of experience, respectively, before starting being the most frequent. http://games.jmir.org/2017/4/e21/ JMIR Serious Games 2017 | vol. 5 | iss. 4 | e21 | p. 4 (page number not for citation purposes) XSL FO RenderX JMIR SERIOUS GAMES Marquet et al Table 2. Demographic characteristics and play averages per group of factors. Characteristics All Factor Chi-square test (n=47) 1. Pokémon and 2. Physical activity 3. Curious & social video game fans seekers (n=13) (n=26) (n=8) F P value Sex, n (%) 1.243 .54 Female 23 (49%) 11 (42%) 4 (50%) 8 (62%) Male 24 (51%) 16 (57%) 4 (50%) 5 (39%) Ethnicity, n (%) 1.244 .54 White 33 (70%) 18 (69%) 5 (63%) 10 (77%) Asian 10 (21%) 8 (31%) 0 (0%) 2 (15%) Other 4 (9%) 0 (0%) 3 (38%) 1 (8%) Academic standing, n (%) 2.985 .56 Freshman 21 (45%) 13 (50%) 4 (50%) 5 (39%) Sophomore 14 (30%) 7 (27%) 4 (50%) 4 (31%) Junior or Senior 12 (26%) 6 (23%) 0 (0%) 4 (31%) Analysis of variance Age (years), mean (SD) 19.5 (2.1) 19.3 (1.6) 19.0 (1.1) 20.1 (3.3) 0.77 .47 3283.5 (1968.9) 2850.3 (1753.2) 4120.1 (1947.1) 3830.5 (2291.8) 1.78 .18 Energy expenditure (kcal/week) , mean (SD) 154 (250) 120 (520) 59 (396) 120 (530) 1.03 0.37 Play/week (minutes), median (IQR ) Play/week (days), median (IQR) 5 (3) 5 (4.5) 3 (2) 6 (4) 0.22 .80 122 (11) 122 (44) 100 (59.3) 123 (11) 11.674 <.001 Playing experience (days) , median (IQR) Energy expenditure estimated by transforming metabolic equivalent tasks (METs) into kilocalories, where 1 MET=1 kcal/kg/h . IQR: interquartile range. Self-reported number of days playing Pokémon GO at the start of the study. http://games.jmir.org/2017/4/e21/ JMIR Serious Games 2017 | vol. 5 | iss. 4 | e21 | p. 5 (page number not for citation purposes) XSL FO RenderX JMIR SERIOUS GAMES Marquet et al Table 3. Enjoyment elements and threats encountered per group of factors. Questions All 1. Pokémon and 2. Physical activity 3. Curious & social Chi-square test (n=47) video game fans seekers (n=13) (n=26) (n=8) n (%) n (%) n (%) n (%) P value What do you enjoy the most? Catching Pokémon 42 (89%) 24 (92%) 7 (88%) 11 (85%) 0.9 .64 Battling 22 (47%) 9 (35%) 1 (13%) 12 (92%) 15 <.001 Playing with friends 33 (70%) 18 (69%) 4 (50%) 11 (85%) 2.5 .28 Being outdoors 26 (55%) 12 (46%) 4 (50%) 10 5 (77%) 0.0 .98 Discovering new places 25 (53%) 9 (35%) 4 (50%) 12 (92%) 11.5 .003 Meeting new people 9 (19%) 1 (4%) 0 (0%) 8 (62%) 20.9 <.001 Have you encountered any threats while playing? Traffic 16 (34%) 8 (31%) 5 (63%) 3 (23%) 3.59 .17 Poor walking conditions 14 (30%) 7 (27%) 4 (50%) 3 (23%) 4.1 .11 None 24 (51%) 15 (58%) 1 (13%) 8 (62%) 3.7 .15 Dichotomized results of multiple-choice answers. Table 4 displays players’ perceived outcomes and changes in stated that the game had done “very little” (mean 2.23 out of 4, players’ spatial awareness. Respondents were asked to respond SD 0.91) to improve their social interactions, with the highest on 4-point Likert-type scales ranging from “not at all” to “to a rating among the curious & social, who significantly differed great extent.” Players reported a very mild adherence to the idea from the other 2 groups (F =6.285, P=.004) and stated that 2,45 that playing Pokémon GO had made them more physically the game had made them “somewhat” more social. active (mean score 2.89, SD 0.78). Differences were found in On average, players reported the game had made them a little the statement regarding whether playing had improved their more aware of their neighborhood, (mean 2.191, SD 1.08) and mood. On average, players did agree that playing had their surrounding facilities (mean 2.149, SD 1.02). Players also “somewhat” improved their mood. However, differences across reported that playing had made them somewhat more aware of groups were significant (F =3.623, P=.04), with the physical 2,45 the public spaces around them (mean 2.776, SD 1.07). activity seekers agreeing least with the statement (mean 2.5 out Significant differences were found in the reporting of of 4, SD 0.84). Post hoc Tukey tests revealed the curious & neighborhood and facility awareness and, in all cases, Pokémon social to score significantly higher (P=.008) than the physical and video game fans had the least awareness, while the curious activity seekers on improved mood. Finally, players on average & social had the highest awareness. Table 4. Outcome perceptions and spatial awareness per group of factors. Questions All 1. Pokémon and 2. Physical activity 3. Curious & social Analysis of (n=47) video game fans seekers (n=13) variance (n=26) (n=8) Mean (SD) Mean (SD) Mean (SD) Mean (SD) F P value Has playing Pokémon GO… Helped you be more physically active 2.89 (0.67) 2.86 (0.76) 2.67 (0.52) 3.08 (0.49) 0.875 .42 Improved your mood 3.04 (0.589) 3.07 (0.54) 2.5 (.84) 3.23 (0.44) 3.623 .04 Improved your social interactions 2.23 (0.91) 1.96 (0.88) 2.0 (0.89) 2.92 (0.64) 6.285 .004 Has playing Pokémon GO made you aware of new… Neighborhood 2.19 (1.08) 1.89 (0.96) 2.33 (1.21) 2.77 (1.09) 3.304 .046 Public space 2.77 (1.07) 2.54 (1.2) 2.83 (1.17) 3.23 (0.44) 1.976 .15 Facilities 2.145 (1.02) 1.86 (1.11) 2.17 (0.75) 2.77 0.60) 4.006 .03 Answers were scored on a 4-point Likert scale: 1=not at all; 2=very little; 3=somewhat; 4=to a great extent. http://games.jmir.org/2017/4/e21/ JMIR Serious Games 2017 | vol. 5 | iss. 4 | e21 | p. 6 (page number not for citation purposes) XSL FO RenderX JMIR SERIOUS GAMES Marquet et al Figure 1. Daily steps measured at 10:00 PM on playing and nonplaying weekdays. Error bars indicate SD. outcome of playing, together with the use of an EMA tool to Objectively Measured Physical Activity enhance the monitoring of motivations and perceptions of Among the group of self-identified Pokémon GO players, a players. These results constitute a step forward toward Pokémon GO playing day, versus a nonplaying day, was empirically measuring the causes that have driven numerous associated with higher number of steps reported (F =8.903, players to Pokémon GO, together with objective measures of 1,310 P=.048; Figure 1). Among the different motivation groups, the their playing experience. relationship is clearly stronger among physical activity seekers Our results distinguished 3 unique groups from a sample of US (F =0.887, P=.02), as they were reporting 34.76% more steps 1,39 college students drawn to Pokémon GO: explicitly seeking on playing days (n=9382) than on days when they had not played physical activity; being Pokémon fans; and being curious about (n=6962). For Pokémon and video game fans, playing was also the phenomenon and wanting to explore opportunities to associated with a higher level of physical activity (F =2.842, 1,195 socialize. Belonging to each group was associated with a P=.04). Finally, the curious & social group reported fewer steps different set of enjoyment factors and variations of perceived on playing days than in nonplaying days, although that outcomes derived from playing. Due to Pokémon GO’s novelty difference was not significant. and trendiness, little research has been done on either the determinants or the outcomes of playing Pokémon GO. Until Discussion now, to our knowledge, only the study by Rasche et al  has assessed players’ motivations. Consistent with their findings, Principal Findings this study also found that being a fan of Pokémon was the most This study found that Pokémon GO players were motivated to frequent motivation to start playing. Undergraduate students play for a variety of reasons, and these motivations determined are among the intended target of the game, being already their perceived and objective behavioral outcomes of playing. familiar with the Pokémon world. According to Bonus et al Understanding the drivers of playing behavior, along with , these players might have been attracted to the game by factors associated with the satisfaction of playing Pokémon GO, the power of a retro brand like the Pokémon franchise, is a central part of using the whole phenomenon of the Pokémon stimulating their interest in the new product by triggering GO craze of 2016 to inform better future health interventions nostalgic and positive emotional attachments. Our data, through gaming. Together with understanding the outcomes of however, also found a specific group of players drawn to the playing Pokémon GO, research on playing behavior might game by the social aspect and another that mainly sought contribute to designing more effective interventions to tackle physical activity. Interestingly, this latter group was also the sedentary behaviors, increase physical activity, and increase group that joined Pokémon GO later (with only 100 days of outdoor socialization among younger adults. playing experience prior to joining the study). This might indicate that it took people reading or hearing about the physical Despite having a limited sample size and focusing on a specific activity benefits of the game reported in the press to become population—that is, undergraduate college students—our involved in Pokémon GO. This is also consistent with the idea analysis provides objectively measured physical activity as an that peer and social pressure in the form of encouragement from http://games.jmir.org/2017/4/e21/ JMIR Serious Games 2017 | vol. 5 | iss. 4 | e21 | p. 7 (page number not for citation purposes) XSL FO RenderX JMIR SERIOUS GAMES Marquet et al family and friends, together with praise from the press, might to 6552 on playing days). The overall finding is consistent with influence an individual’s adoption of the game . the only other available study using objective counts of physical activity , which found a 22.4% step increase among Our data clearly suggest that motivations and exposure Pokémon GO users considering only the first week after effectively determined a player’s response and outcomes. For installing the game. Our motivation-specific results reinforce instance, those who started playing because they were Pokémon the idea that physical gains derived from Pokémon GO are not fans enjoyed Pokémon-related characteristics of the game, but universal, as different player groups, with different motivations also playing with friends; those seeking physical activity enjoyed and expectations, may be getting different levels of physical catching Pokémon; and those curious & social enjoyed the more during and because of their playing experience. Other analyses social aspect of playing Pokémon GO (battling), together with using self-reported measures of physical activity, with less playing with friends and making new discoveries. Playing accuracy but larger sample sizes, also reported slight increases alongside friends was, in fact, the highest-rated aspect, which in physical activity  and that Pokémon GO was particularly also emphasizes the need for considering the social dimension popular among people with sedentary behaviors . in future games or interventions. Previous research  reported that increased socialization and Significantly, physical activity seekers were the ones in least a higher number of visits to green areas and public parks were agreement with the idea that playing Pokémon GO could among the most often reported benefits of the Pokémon GO improve their physical activity levels. Members of the other phenomenon. Our results may contradict this and other exergame groups, however, were more in agreement with Pokémon GO examples [32,33], as we did not find an association between having increased their physical activity. This suggests that those players who were more motivated by social connections Pokémon GO may have a positive secondary outcome on and increased physical activity. increasing physical activity, but that people seeking exclusively physical activity may end up disappointed due to the limited Limitations increase in steps. The most agreed-upon assessment among all Despite the use of EMA and objective physical activity through groups was that playing Pokémon GO improved their mood. the smartphone accelerometer, this study has limitations. First This could have been a consequence of being physically active and foremost, our small sample size limits the conclusions that , being outdoors, or even staying focused on a single task can be drawn from this study. In the future, extending the study while avoiding social media . Also significant is that those to a larger population, other age groups, and additional locations who joined looking for increased social interactions (curious should validate and confirm the conclusions we reached. While & social) were the ones most in agreement with the idea that the use of EMA tools provided higher accuracy on the collected Pokémon GO had improved their social interactions. This may data, it also made it necessary to keep surveys, which were validate the idea that playing Pokémon GO has some positive administered 3 times a day, reasonably short in order to avoid socialization effects, an idea that has been repeatedly posed by low response rates. Not enough data were available from those experts  but that has not yet, to our knowledge, been tested who did not complete the EMA section of the study in order to empirically. Our results also support the idea that Pokémon GO compare their results with those who successfully completed may increase spatial exploration and location awareness. While it. With the short EMA surveys, we still removed 7 participants Pokémon GO fans paid little attention to their location, from the analyses because they did not complete 80% of the 21 awareness of surroundings was highly appreciated by those who surveys. were playing because they were curious, or for social or physical Conclusions activity, with the discovery of new public places being the most cited feature. Not paying attention to the surroundings could Bielik et al  described 10 design requirements that make also be a risk factor, as players can become so focused on the exergames successful at promoting physical activity. Of those, playing experience that they put themselves in danger . Pokémon GO meets 6. (1) Personal awareness of activity levels However, our study did not ask specifically about risky playing and (2) providing feedback on the accumulated activity are met behaviors. in that Pokémon GO players always know how many steps they have taken and how many times they have played. Pokémon The study’s group of players reported higher activity levels on GO also (3) supports social influences, both by allowing the days when they had actually played Pokémon GO. Playing also sharing of in-game achievements with others and by promoting had different physical activity implications depending on the spontaneous social interactions. It also (4) provides a variety of motivations of each player. Based on steps reported through motivational tools that, as shown by our results, range from smartphone accelerometers, our results suggest an 11.05% playing with the goal of catching Pokémon or playing with the difference in the number of daily steps between active playing goal of engaging in between-player battles, to playing for days (n=7909) and nonplaying days (n=7122). This effect of exercise or playing to socialize. This wide range of motivational Pokémon GO on physical activity, however, was not tools creates (5) short- and long-term incentives for Pokémon homogeneous across all groups. Pokémon fans registered a GO players to leave home and engage in physical activity. 15.37% increase in steps on playing days (from 7077 steps on Pokémon GO does this while (6) understanding the practical nonplaying days to 8165 steps on playing days), while for the constraints of each player’s lifestyle and allowing important physical activity seekers this increased by 34.76% (from 6962 freedom regarding schedules and playing bouts. Bielik and steps on nonplaying days to 9382 steps on playing days). The colleague’s requirements that are not completely met by curious & social, by contrast, reported a 10.71% reduction of Pokémon GO are giving the user proper credit for [physical] steps during playing days (from 7338 steps on nonplaying days http://games.jmir.org/2017/4/e21/ JMIR Serious Games 2017 | vol. 5 | iss. 4 | e21 | p. 8 (page number not for citation purposes) XSL FO RenderX JMIR SERIOUS GAMES Marquet et al activity; ensuring fair play; providing the possibility of demonstrated the potential of this kind of game to increase integrations with other existing solutions; and, finally, meeting physical activity levels among US college students. At the same the issue of data privacy and how developers are protecting time, we have also demonstrated how the effects were not players’ data. homogeneous among all players, as motivations and personal attitudes toward the game can change the perceived and Previous research had already demonstrated the positive effect objective outcomes. The fact that Pokémon GO is gathering that exergames can have on physical activity among young people seeking different experiences is a positive indicator and people [35,36], at the same time that others have demonstrated a note to future interventions that should plan for a broader the impact of social online video games on the development of range of players. social capital in the form of new and stronger friendships . The strong links in the literature between social interaction and Understanding how to design games to bring together public exercise  make it plausible that the effects of Pokémon GO health interventions will be important in a future with an ever go beyond the mere increased physical activity and enhanced greater presence of mobile games and virtual reality experiences. socialization toward a broader concept of mental health and This study provides emerging evidence to validate some of the well-being . In particular, what makes Pokémon GO suggested positive outcomes of playing Pokémon GO and different and more effective than similar kinds of exergames contributes to understanding the complexity behind gaming are its social component and the special use of augmented reality behavior and gaming experience. Further insights into how to that transforms the actual physical surrounding environment engage players in even more active playing behaviors, along into a digital playing field. with new understandings on how to maintain long-term user engagement, will be necessary for the future. Finally, qualitative Although the direct observed benefits of playing were small, studies and mixed-methods approaches will be necessary in the the success of Pokémon GO can encourage future health future to deepen the conclusions advanced here. interventions using active games and exergames. 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[doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2011-090185] [Medline: 21807669] Abbreviations ANOVA: analysis of variance EMA: ecological momentary assessment IPAQ: International Physical Activity Questionnaire MET: metabolic equivalent task PACO: Personal Analytics Companion Edited by I Weber; submitted 15.05.17; peer-reviewed by C Demant Klinker, P Wark, R Robinson; comments to author 23.06.17; revised version received 18.07.17; accepted 17.09.17; published 24.10.17 Please cite as: Marquet O, Alberico C, Adlakha D, Hipp JA JMIR Serious Games 2017;5(4):e21 URL: http://games.jmir.org/2017/4/e21/ doi: 10.2196/games.8048 PMID: 29066423 ©Oriol Marquet, Claudia Alberico, Deepti Adlakha, J Aaron Hipp. Originally published in JMIR Serious Games (http://games.jmir.org), 24.10.2017. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Serious Games, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://games.jmir.org, as well as this copyright and license information must be included. http://games.jmir.org/2017/4/e21/ JMIR Serious Games 2017 | vol. 5 | iss. 4 | e21 | p. 11 (page number not for citation purposes) XSL FO RenderX
JMIR Serious Games – JMIR Publications
Published: Oct 24, 2017
Keywords: Pokémon GO; physical activity; excercise; exergames; gaming outcomes; games, recreational; motivation
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