Dr. Stephanie Takaragawa
The mobile app game, “Pokémon GO” became a worldwide phenomenon immediately following its initial release in the summer of 2016. Now, more than a year later, despite its fall from social domination and decline in popularity, POGO is still at the forefront for better understanding the future of communication and socialization in today’s ever growing digital age. This ethnographic study, aided by field research, observations, and literature review of both the app itself as well as the ‘Poké-verse,’ provides an in-depth analysis of how and why a mobile gaming app that utilizes no new forms of technology (augmented reality combined with global positioning systems) has become one of the most crucial steps in understanding the future of human interaction. Social media is known for simultaneously being able to connect people in ways never conceived imaginable, while also pushing people further apart. POGO flips this notion by having no multiplayer game interface, and as a result becomes a buffer so that people are able to use their phones as both a screen to hide behind, but also as a window with which to find and reach out to other players. The strength of the thriving POGO community ultimately reinforces findings to demonstrate that there is a considerable amount that researchers and social scientists alike can learn from the mobile game which was dismissed by the mass culture as purely a fad. The power of child-like nostalgia mixed with an innovative gamer interface has allowed for players to take a simple gaming concept and develop it into its own community with its own culture. Pokémon may be perceived as a juvenile game, but Pokémon GO is the prime innovation to represent how to successfully and effectively connect the real world to online experiences for social interaction.
Abramson, Ketzia, "An Ethnographic Exploration of Pokémon GO" (2017). Student Research Day Abstracts and Posters. 261.