More reasons to play Pokemon Go: Study says game makes users happier and friendlier!

The large pool of players presented an opportunity to capture the effects of augmented reality games.

By Zee Media Bureau | Last Updated: Apr 13, 2017, 21:53 PM IST
More reasons to play Pokemon Go: Study says game makes users happier and friendlier!

New Delhi: The GPS-based smartphone game Pokemon Go had taken the world by storm and caused a global frenzy among people after its release last year.

Even after reports of people facing accidents surfaced owing to the augmented reality format it follows, it didn't stop Pokemon fans from playing the game.

Following the staggering success of the game, there were reports on its positive impact on health, since it required the player to walk around extensively in search of Pokemons.

Now, adding to the list of healthy benefits the game has to offer, a study has said that Pokemon Go makes people happier and friendlier.

Post its release, scientists studied the popular game and came to the conclusion that Pokemon Go users are more likely to be positive, friendly and physically active.

"There was plenty of negative press about distracted people trespassing and running into trees or walking into the street," said James Alex Bonus, graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US.

"But you also saw people really enjoying it, having a good time together outside," Bonus said.

Pokemon Go creator claims 65 million regular users and more than 650 million app downloads.

Even in the first few weeks following release of the game – in which players "catch" wild, virtual Pokemon creatures lurking in places like parks and public buildings, and train them to do battle against one another – players were easy to pick out on sidewalks.

The large pool of players presented an opportunity to capture the effects of augmented reality games, researchers said.

"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," Bonus said.

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.

"People told us about a variety of experiences with differential relationships to well-being," Bonus said.

"But, 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," he said.

They were also more social. Players were more likely than nonplayers 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.

Surprisingly, the survey respondents who showed more social anxiety were not less likely to be Pokemon Go players, even though aspects of the game encourage chance interactions with people including strangers.

"We often focus on media violence and aggression and hostility, but there are opportunities where media is contributing to good life experiences," Bonus said.

The study was published in the journal Media Psychology.

(With PTI inputs)