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'Pokemon Go' Players are Happier and Friendlier, Study Shows

Apr 17, 2017 10:30 AM EDT
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The 'Pokemon Go' craze swept over the world in an overwhelming fashion, but a new study by researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison revealed that it might have left a trail of happier gamers in its wake.

According to an official report from the University of Wisconsin, the team of researchers discovered users of the highly popular Pokemon game were more likely to be positive, friendly and physically active.

Since Pokemon Go's release in July 2016, it has captured a significant market around the world. Specifically, there are 65 million regular users and over 650 million app downloads, according to Pokemon Go creator Niantic. In the first few weeks of Pokemon Go's release, it's not uncommon to see groups of people loitering in public places with their heads buried in the game.

The massive number of players piqued the interest of the researchers, who embarked on a mission to observe the effects of augmented reality games such as Pokemon Go.

"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," UW-Madison graduate student James Alex Bonus said.

Three weeks after the launch of Pokemon Go, the group interviewed around 400 people about their emotional and social lives as well as levels of physical activity. Over 40 percent of the subjects turned out to be players of Pokemon Go. Interestingly, it was these people who were more likely to exercise and experience positive emotions and nostalgia. They were also found to be more social, particularly open to making new friends and strengthening relationships with old ones.

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

The team published their study in the journal Media Psychology.

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