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The surprising way that Pokémon Go affects users and what this means for digital.
14 July 2016

Around the office, the bulk of the JTB team are hunting Pokémon.

 

“Look at this,” says JTB Studios Director Jeremy Bogdanowicz. “I’ve just caught a Charmander!”

 

We take 5-minute Pokémon breaks to hit up the PokéStop across the street or catch wild Rattata’s that have appeared on our desks as the app churns through our phone batteries. On returning from a walk to find lunch, I’ve added another 3 Pokémon to my collection.

 

Pokémon Go only launched a week ago, yet it has already had wide-sweeping implications for digital, with expectations that the user base will exceed that of daily active Twitter users.

 

Even more interesting is anecdotal evidence surfacing that the game is helping users with mental health issues.

What can we learn from the way users interact with Pokemon Go in terms of digital?

The app works by using Google Maps and your phone’s camera to turn your everyday surroundings into the game. Users need to physically walk around to complete activities such as visiting PokéStop’s or hunting rare Pokémon around their neighbourhood, and it is this additional physical exercise that some are touting as helping their mental health.

 

Others have exclaimed that using the augmented reality app has helped them cut down on anti-anxiety medication, encouraging them to leave the house more often than before.

 

At the heart of the issue, though, is a well-documented reinforcement of the psychological rewards system. Studies suggest that video games motivate users and affect well-being by satisfying basic psychological needs for competence and autonomy.

 

Pokémon Go certainly ticks those boxes, providing easy thrills and a sense of achievement with little outlay from the user. The novelty factor of augmented reality and the necessity for user’s physical interaction increases a sense of competence, maximising the sense of motivation experienced by users.

 

The biggest takeaway here from a digital perspective is how to incorporate these elements into web design. Stay tuned for the 3 key lessons for web design!

 

Jess Kumanovski, JTB Studios Account Manager
JTB Studios, Digital Agency Melbourne

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