Pokémon Go Was the Most Interesting Social Experiment of the Decade

Pokémon Go is an augmented reality mobile phone game based on the popular Pokémon video game franchise. Launched by Niantic in July of 2016 for iOS and Android devices, the game was an immediate phenomenon. Downloaded over 500 million times, it created a fascinating social experiment.

Peer Pressure

Almost immediately upon the game’s launch, Pokémon Go players gathered in newsworthy hordes while chasing Pokémon. However, this can be viewed as an interesting insight into peer pressure. While the Pokémon series certainly boasts a share of nostalgia, especially among Millennials, the incredible speed at which the game became its own phenomenon was startling. Building upon its own success through word of mouth, the game allowed users of all ages, experiences, and backgrounds to take part in a suddenly massive real-world community.

Exercise and Outdoor Play

While closely linked to the original Pokémon series, Pokémon Go’s use of mobile phone AR technology promotes interaction with the world at large. Unlike in the past when participants could play a game for hours without taking a step, Pokémon Go can only be effectively played by getting out into the world and moving. Players must wander around to find the ubiquitous monsters as well as PokéStops and Gyms. The game takes real landmarks and places them into the digital world so players can interact with them. It all adds up to a significant increase in physical activity when compared to traditional gaming on computers, consoles or even traditional mobile devices. In short, most studies consider this a healthier alternative.

Safety and Situational Awareness

The fun may have some downsides. Crowds have been known to roam into dangerous areas, causing injuries or property damage. Even more serious, a spate of car accidents caused by drivers attempting to play behind the wheel quickly caused Niantic to issue stern warnings and even modify the game to make such activity more difficult. It’s been estimated that over attentiveness to the game resulted in as many as 145,000 pedestrian-involved auto accidents with 29,000 injuries and even a handful of fatalities.

Ultimately, despite some early criticism, Pokémon Go rapidly became one of the greatest cultural events of the past few years. Encompassing both hardcore gamers and complete newcomers, Pokéman fanatics and the merely curious, the young, old and everyone in between, this new mobile game has given researchers, writers and news teams plenty of stories to tell. It is up to the gamers themselves to determine whether Pokémon Go leaves a legacy of positivity or problems.

And now with new Pokemon Games coming out, it will be interesting to see what new additions Pokemon Go comes up with and if there will be a resurgence in its popularity. So, what are your thoughts? Do you or did you play Pokemon Go when it first came out? Are you still playing now- why or why not? Sound off and let us know what your thoughts are on this one of a kind virtual reality game!