Who wants to catch 'em all? Perceptions of Pokémon Go in game users and non-users


Pokémon Go is an augmented-reality game in which players move around their community catching monsters, acquiring supplies, and battling opposing teams. Both health researchers and the popular media have identified Pokémon Go as a high-impact health promotion tool, with the ability to increase physical activity and prompt community engagement. However, empirical research is lacking on the motivational factors that draw people toward Pokémon Go. Answers may provide interventionists with insights into the individual-level factors associated with technological uptake. Our purpose was to investigate how Pokémon Go users (N=448) and non-users (N=166) differ in their perceptions of Pokémon Go and physical activity and game use. Participants completed an online questionnaire that examined the social cognitive constructs of barriers, outcome expectancies (motivation), and self-efficacy. Non-users primarily identified not having enough time as a barrier to game uptake. Wilk's statistic indicated significant differences between users and non-users in Pokémon Go outcome expectancies, p<0.001, and physical activity outcome expectancies, p<0.001. Whereas users had more favourable views of Pokémon Go, non-users had more favourable views of physical activity. Non-users reported significantly higher self-efficacy for walking 2km, 5km, and 10km distances, p<0.001; and perceived walking as more enjoyable, p<0.001. Overall, findings suggest barriers to Pokémon Go use may be rooted in individuals' perceptions of the app rather than perceptions of physical activity. Indeed, this preliminary data suggests that Pokémon Go may be particularly effective for encouraging physical activity in those with relatively low views of activity.