Pokémon GO: a socio-technical exploratory
PURPOSE: This study aimed to identify whether increased Pokémon GO use resulted in increased daily steps, compared to days when an individual did not play. In addition, this study examined Pokémon GO as a use case for for the study of gamification, particularly whether traditionally identified game mechanics in gamification literature were successfully identified as elements players enjoy when playing Pokémon GO. METHODS: A mixed methods approach, with 17 participants taking part in a daily physical activity tracking study and 14 participants participating in semi-structured interviews. In the use study, participant steps were tracked for one week using the Apple Health Kit application, and participants were also asked to provide daily answers to a variety of questions assessing game preferences and daily use of Pokémon GO - using the application called PACO. The semi-structured interviews examined self-reported physical activity, and asked questions pertaining to use of Pokémon GO, such as motivation to play. RESULTS: Results assessed by t-test indicate a small but non-significant trend towards increased steps taken on days when a participant played vs. did not play (t(72)=- .56, p=.57, mplay=5,0153220, mnonplay=4,5152,959). This was confirmed with a mixed model test showing that when controlling for time and participant’s baseline level of steps, there was no significant effect on steps/day. Results from the daily surveys and also the semi-structured interviews, indicated that nostalgia (i.e., catching ones’ favorite childhood Pokémon), was a strong motivator for many to play the game, which was counter to theoretical expectations. In line with previous theory, results suggested that operant conditioning principles appeared to be at work in terms of fostering game play use. DISCUSSION: Results of this study, which was a primarily hypothesis generating endeavor, indicated possible trends toward increased steps on days when a person plays Pokémon G), but - with such a small sample, and short-term length of study - no firm conclusions can be drawn. Further, results indicate the particular value of nostalgia as a driver towards game play for Pokémon GO.