By: Kassandra Dzikewicz
With an estimated 75 million downloads world wide, ‘Pokémon Go’ has become the latest global phenomenon. The other day I had my 13-year-old neighbor explain to me what exactly ‘Pokémon Go’ is, and why everyone was so obsessed with it. As someone who was never really into Pokémon, or video games, I had a hard time understanding this latest craze that people of all ages have suddenly become so consumed with. After more thought, and a little research, I started to understand the psychology behind this new craze.
Nostalgia plays a huge role in the fascination of this new game, as many people are becoming involved because it takes them back to the days when they would play Pokémon games as a child. In the ’90s many children dreamt of catching Pokémon, and now with ‘Pokémon Go’, they finally can live their childhood dreams. Not only does nostalgia fuel the desire to play the game, but it brings people together, and allows people to relate to one another, as they can share their memories of playing as a child.
Studies show that since nostalgia makes people feel more connected to one another, they also feel more positive about themselves, increasing self esteem. There is also a strong correlation between nostalgia and an increase in optimism in an individual. With the positive effects of nostalgia alone, it seems obvious as to why so many people have become involved with ‘Pokémon Go’.
The game also has a social aspect to it. Socializing helps to raise dopamine levels which increases self- confidence, as well as happiness, and our overall mood. Whether people get together as a group to play the game, or run into strangers as they are searching for Pokémon, the game allows people to connect with one another and bond over their shared interest in the game. The game also uses the herd mentality- the influence our peers have on how we embrace certain behaviours, or activities. Since it seems like everyone is playing the game these days, it is influencing others to play as well to find out what they are missing out on.
The game helps to get people outside. Although this might seem like an easy thing to do in the summer months, many children and teens find themselves indoors on their computers or in front of a TV. Spending time outdoors has several benefits to both mental and physical health, such as increasing creativity, decreasing stress levels, and increasing our mood.
Games help to distract people from real life, and allow them to immerse themselves in a different world. With all of the tragic news arising, people are looking for an escape. Whether they are intentionally seeking an escape or subconsciously going to this virtual world to free themselves from the bad news or their own burdens, this augmented reality serves as a distraction as well as a source of positivity for its players.
With so many psychological benefits it is no wonder why ‘Pokémon Go’ has become the latest craze, not only for millennials but for all generations.