While the Pokémon Go app became a worldwide phenomenon last summer and motivated its players to become more active, they quickly lost interest and subsequently couldn’t sustain their increased physical activity, according to a recent study published by the BMJ, a British medical journal.

The findings are perhaps a disappointment to those who hoped games like Pokémon Go could get people to increase their activity and potentially serve as a wellness tool at work. According to a Forbes poll conducted during the summer craze, 80 per cent of respondents said they exercised more by playing the game. The hope was employers might be able to harness the enthusiasm to encourage healthy behaviours through team-building activities and competitions.

Read: Pokémon Go: Is game a disruption or a wellness tool for employers?

The research, which surveyed 560 Pokémon Go players in the United States aged 18 to 35 who were also using iPhone 6 smartphones that tracked their activity levels, recorded the number of steps participants took daily in the four weeks before they installed the app and six weeks after.

In the first week following installation, players walked an average of 955 additional steps per day, but the numbers gradually diminished over the next five weeks. By the sixth week, researchers found players’ daily steps had gone back to pre-installation levels.

The study also showed the app led to only a modest increase in physical activity. Interventions designed to increase walking typically recommend individuals increase their daily number of steps by 2,500, according to the study. But Pokémon Go users, on average, increased their steps by 955.

Read: Can virtual reality get employees moving?

The BMJ study of Pokémon Go shows games are only effective in the short term if they lack certain gaming principles, according to Ian McCarthy, a professor of technology and operations management at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business. While the game captivated people upon its launch, it failed to keep players interested because it lacked core gaming principles, McCarthy said in an email to Benefits Canada.

“The mechanics and dynamics were simple enough to get you quickly and easily into the app but too shallow to keep you playing,” said McCarthy. “Players got bored, and the interaction between them was almost non-existent, which limits collaboration and competition gaming dynamics. It could have been a proper multiplayer game, but at best you searched as an individual for a group, rather than played and competed as a group.”

According to McCarthy, the game lacked a robust tracking tool that left players frustrated because they found it too difficult to find the fictional creatures. As a result, people stopped using the game and dropped their healthy behaviours after moving on to other activities, McCarthy noted.

Read: KPMG sees big participation boost in Global Corporate Challenge

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

Join us on Twitter

See all comments Recent Comments

Ian McCarthy:

The gamification principles cited by Ian McCarthy in this story are published in the Business Horizons journal, available here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000768131500035X

Wednesday, January 18 at 12:50 pm | Reply

Add a comment

Have your say on this topic! Comments that are thought to be disrespectful or offensive may be removed by our Benefits Canada admins. Thanks!

* These fields are required.
Field required
Field required
Field required