Skip to main content

2019 | Book

Augmented Reality Games I

Understanding the Pokémon GO Phenomenon


About this book

This is the first of two comprehensive volumes that provide a thorough and multi-faceted research into the emerging field of augmented reality games and consider a wide range of its major issues. These first ever research monographs on augmented reality games have been written by a team of 70 leading researchers, practitioners and artists from 20 countries.

In Volume I, the phenomenon of the Pokémon GO game is analysed in theoretical, cultural and conceptual contexts, with emphasis on its nature and the educational use of the game in children and adolescents. Game transfer phenomena, motives for playing Pokémon GO, players’ experiences and memorable moments, social interaction, long-term engagement, health implications and many other issues raised by the Pokémon GO game are systematically examined and discussed.

Augmented Reality Games I is essential reading not only for researchers, practitioners, game developers and artists, but also for students (graduates and undergraduates) and all those interested in the rapidly developing area of augmented reality games.

Table of Contents


The Pokémon GO Phenomenon in Theoretical, Cultural and Conceptual Contexts

Chapter 1. Waiting for the Augmented Reality ‘Killer App’: Pokémon GO 2016
In this chapter, the author asks why, despite the commercial success of Pokémon GO, a large popular audience for augmented reality experiences has not yet gathered. Drawing a comparison to the quick and massive popularity of cinema at the turn of the century, the author asks, what do audiences desire from this ever-emerging medium? In response, the chapter re-draws definitions of the augmented reality medium and reflects on its unique potentialities. The central question of the chapter is an analogy: if, in 1903, The Great Train Robbery established the cinematic montage form and inspired the creation of massive cinema audiences and venues, what could be The Great Train Robbery of AR?
Geoffrey Alan Rhodes
Chapter 2. Characteristics of Game Transfer Phenomena in Location-Based Augmented Reality Games
This chapter explores sensory perceptions, cognitive mix-ups and slips of actions associated with augmented reality (AR) technologies, such as in location-based AR games. The research on Game Transfer Phenomena (GTP) has demonstrated that playing video games in AR and non-AR can induce sensory perceptions, manifesting as seeing images overlaying physical objects (e.g., seeing power bars above people’s heads or maps in the corner of the eye), hearing sounds coming from game-related objects, and perceiving physical objects as distorted or having misperceptions (e.g., confusing birds with aeroplanes). The aim of this chapter is twofold. The first is to provide an overview of the GTP research conducted on location-based AR games. The second is to highlight the peculiarities of GTP in AR games. While a broad variety of the GTP reported in non-AR games has also been found in location-based AR games, the key characteristic of these games is that the gameplay occurs through interactions in the physical context. The physical context is part of the game by means of (i) the overlaying of game images on the physical context and (ii) the game being played through interactions in the physical context. The key peculiarities of GTP in these games are (i) the temporal manifestation of GTP while/after playing, (ii) the two-way transfer of effects from the virtual to the physical and vice versa, (iii) the increased chances of the occurrence of certain forms of GTP (e.g., the urge to do something related to the game, misperceptions of physical stimuli, tactile sensations) including cognitive mix-ups and slips of actions when confusing virtual objects with real objects and (iv) the GTP triggered by the outputs from a multipurpose device.
Angelica B. Ortiz de Gortari
Chapter 3. The Concept of the Magic Circle and the Pokémon GO Phenomenon
When Johan Huizinga in 1938 published Homo Ludens, he had no idea the book would father a future research field: ludology or game studies. In that respect, inspirations from Huizinga run deep in game studies and many researchers have since tackled questions like: what is play? what is a game? And perhaps most notoriously how should we understand Huizinga’s description of the magic circle. This chapter revisit Huizinga’s thinking on play, games, and his concept of the magic circle. Subsequently we investigate how the magic circle perform in relation to ‘traditional’ computer games, is challenged by ‘meta-referential’ games and is expanded by Augmented Reality games such as Pokémon GO. We present three understandings of the magic circle: (1) expression of a specific physical place, (2) metaphor for player experience, and finally (3) as a mix between the two. We regard and equate the magic in the magic circle with play. Juxtaposing magic as play and the magic circle as relating to physical space, player experience and its mixed combinations to Pokémon GO result in a multilayered expansion consisting of player experiences, social interactions with other players in a playing field that is close to engulf the entire planet.
Lasse Juel Larsen, Gunver Majgaard
Chapter 4. Mediation Theory Between Pokémon GO and the Everyday World
This work aims to study the effects of augmented reality (AR) on the everyday world. Many studies already highlight the relations between digital and real by showing how digital objects affect our perception of the everyday world. However, they focus on these effects as if there was an everyday world from which to start and to which add these digital objects. This work focuses on a different perspective by showing how the meaning given to the everyday world is already founded on the use of these technologies. The values we find in our everyday experience emerge from the possible interactions with new technologies. The use of Pokémon GO then do not merely shape our everyday world by providing new digital elements in it, but it also reshapes the way we live and the way we think of our lives in the everyday world even when we do not use that technology.
Nicola Liberati
Chapter 5. Augmented Reality, Games and Art: Immersion and Flow
All forms of augmented reality (AR)—including games—have common features. According to the authors, the two most important are immersion and flow. The phenomenon of AR is closely related with the technology: the optics, the sensors and HD displays are requirements. With the use of applications, digital information can be projected on the real world, while it becomes interactive. Most of AR games are smartphone related. In 2018 smartphones are ubiquitous devices. Their developers’ attention is focused on usability and experience, the goal is to make it as intuitive as possible and not to block the immersion of users into the games. Without the right speed or resolution, games simply do not work, but flow gives the necessary edge. In this study, the authors build on the theory by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, who in his discourse on flow points out the peak experience that occurs when an individual is deeply involved in an activity. This perfect instantaneous real momentum is the flow that is the unity of joy and creativity, something the most popular AR games provide.
György Molnár, Zoltán Szűts

The Nature of the Pokémon GO Phenomenon and Lessons Learned

Chapter 6. Motives for Playing Pokémon GO and Their Associations with Problematic and Health Behaviors
Pokémon GO has been increasingly popular since its first release in July 2016. Due to the massive success of this game, a growing body of research has accumulated in recent years investigating the motives for playing Pokémon GO. This chapter provides an overview of empirical studies that aimed to explore a wide range of motives that drive players to use and re-use this popular augmented reality game. Overall, 14 studies have been identified, and 8 main motives were classified based upon this literature: social, physical/outdoor activity, nostalgia, fun/enjoyment, competition/achievement, exploration/curiosity, boredom, and trendiness. In addition, players were motivated to collect all Pokémon species, experience the advantages of AR games, and escape from reality. The associations of these motives with adaptive and maladaptive behaviors are also discussed in this chapter, alongside with the possibilities for future research.
Ágnes Zsila, Gábor Orosz
Chapter 7. Player Experiences in Location-Based Games: Memorable Moments with Pokémon GO
Pokémon GO was the first location-based augmented reality game to reach mainstream popularity. We present a qualitative survey study (n = 2611) focusing on the Pokémon GO players’ memorable experiences from the time when the game’s popularity was at its peak and the experiences were fresh in players’ minds. We analyzed the open-ended written responses with thematic analysis, resulting in seven categories with a total of 82 thematic codes. The categories we constructed were Game Play and Game Content, People and Sociability, Location, Circumstances and Context, Negative Events, Feelings and Other Codes. Through our analysis and findings, we provide insights to understand Pokémon GO as a unique social phenomenon as well as a location-based augmented reality game more broadly. In addition to shedding more light on the Pokémon GO experiences and considering the potential for location-based games to engage players within the physical and social context around them, the findings capture what players found memorable about the massive phenomenon at its peak.
Elina Koskinen, Dale Leorke, Kati Alha, Janne Paavilainen
Chapter 8. I Play, You Play and We Play Together: Social Interaction Through the Use of Pokémon GO
Nowadays mobiles are used mainly for communication throughout social medias and apps, and games on mobiles have not been that successful during the last years. Since July 2016, a location-based augmented reality game named Pokémon GO was launched with a potential and promising proposal: making people walking, cycling or running through different urban places, supporting users to be healthier and more active in their daily activities, and interacting with other users by social meetings. The objective of this study is to observe substantial changes of users, regarding how the social interaction through the use of a mobile game can modify people’s lifestyle. The methodology was developed with a qualitative analysis involving a sample with players who were invited to complete an online questionnaire to answer specific questions about lifestyle, healthy choices and social outcomes from the interaction and use of Pokémon GO. This study involved 125 players (84 male and 41 female) in the city of Pelotas (South of Brazil) that have played the game for at least six months. It was possible to observe how users were meeting new people to socialize and making groups to walk or run together, getting an extra motivation.
Mateus David Finco
Chapter 9. Long-Term Engagement in Mobile Location-Based Augmented Reality Games
Pokémon GO was the first mobile location-based Augmented Reality (AR) game to be widely publicized, and its predecessor—the Ingress game—was the first mobile location-based game reaching a broader audience. Both games are continuously developed and have a large basis of regular players. Therefore, Pokémon GO and Ingress can be seen as successful examples of game design in terms of players’ long-term engagement. The usage of games in engineering education has a long tradition, mostly for mediating the understanding of complex systems and often used in a workshop setting where learning takes place not only during game play but also in the debriefing parts. These games have often been multi-player games and have profited from the player interactions, which, since quite unpredictable, has helped to keep the players’ engagement high. However, the costs of designing such games are high, the time for improvements and adjustments is long, and due to the high dependency of user interactions, it is also difficult to ensure a formalized learning outcome. Thus, from a game design perspective, it is beneficially to know how the game mechanics of successful games are constructed. The aim of the study described in this chapter is to identify the game mechanics of Pokémon GO that lead to the observed high level of player engagement. The data collection is done with the help of a survey (N = 50). The results are refined by a comparison with the results of a similarly structured study on Ingress (N = 131). Both surveys have for the most part gathered players who have been playing regularly since the release of the games. The results of the study are summarized in a set of hypotheses and recommendations for the design of mobile location-based AR games. These findings intend to contribute to an effective design of serious mobile location-based AR games.
Heinrich Söbke, Jannicke Baalsrud Hauge, Ioana A. Stefan
Chapter 10. Health Implications of Augmented Reality Games on Children and Adolescents
This chapter explores the relationship between augmented reality games and the health of child and adolescent gamers. Focusing on Pokémon GO, the chapter highlights potential positive youth outcomes of these games in areas such as psychosocial development, physical fitness and experiences during hospital stays, while addressing some of the possible negative consequences and risks to their usage on the mental and behavioural health and safety of players. It further addresses augmented reality’s potential and current impact in relevant areas such as education and the medical field. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the responsibilities and roles of parents, clinicians, businesses, and regulatory organizations as augmented reality games become increasingly popular.
David E. Jimenez, Jay Shah, Prithwijit Das, Ruth L. Milanaik
Chapter 11. Playing Pokémon GO in a Public Park in Malaysia: A Survey and Analysis
Public parks have been developed to provide the physical facilities and the cultural activities that cater the needs of the community. This research aims to argue the implications of the Pokémon GO phenomenon with regard to the existing physical activities in a public park, namely Taman Perbandaran Tengku Anis (TPTA), Kota Bharu, Kelantan, Malaysia. Site survey and observation have been conducted to measure the frequency of visitors and the use of the facilities provided. The survey demonstrated that there are 38 general activities implemented in this park and observation has shown that the Augmented Reality (AR) game Pokémon GO has merged to become part of the activities in this park where the PokéStop and Gym game elements have been involved in this site. The observation was conducted for a period of one week following the launch day of this game resulted in the introduction of a new activity and an increasing number of visitors to this park. However, Pokémon GO only engaged AR, smartphones and the player without utilizing the facilities and engaging with the common activities of this park. Although this park is considered a public park where a multitude of social cultural activities could be embedded, Pokémon GO is one activity that allows the player to undertake his or her own visual physical challenges and gives no provision to the other visitors in terms of safety guarantees and space commonality. The phenomenon drastically increased the number of visitors attracted to the park, although after several months it returned to normal and visitors with sports attire became much more visible. Several issues related to the local authority and religion also resulted in decreasing numbers of players.
Siti Aisyah Muhammad

The Pokémon GO Phenomenon in Educational Context

Chapter 12. A Theoretical-Practical Framework for the Educational Uses of Pokémon GO in Children and Adolescents
The game, in its many facets, plays a key role in all stages of life, and especially in physical, social, emotional and intellectual development. Pokémon GO has managed to convert the environment that surrounds us into a space used by a video game, thanks to its combination of physical activity and augmented reality. But what does Pokémon GO involve within the educational system? In this chapter, we will address its impact on those players that were within the educational framework, as well as some practical proposals for its adaptation and use as a didactical tool.
Alberto Ruiz-Ariza, Sebastián López-Serrano, Manuel J. De la Torre-Cruz, Emilio J. Martínez-López
Chapter 13. Pokémon GO Between Incidental Learning and Frame Analysis: It’s the End of the World as We Know It
This chapter proposes a reading of Pokémon GO in terms of learning potentiality, trying to describe how learning can occur via the game and which methodological approach fits it better. After a brief literature review about unexpected benefits of the game, especially in terms of health, Schutz’s idea of finite provinces of meaning is explored in order to understand how different layers of reality interact in an Augmented Reality-based game. This background analysis opens the way for investigating the process of restructuration that cognitive frames can undergo when players, for example, go to a PokéStop or to a Gym. Since these moments of knowledge creation are unpredictable, the Incidental Learning methodological approach is taken into consideration, along with Transformative and Ubiquitous Learning.
Annamaria Cacchione
Chapter 14. Augmented Education: Location-Based Games for Real-World Teaching and Learning Sessions
GPS-equipped smartphones have enabled the construction of location-based games. In augmented reality (AR), fantasy worlds are mapped to real-world settings. Two location-based AR games that use historical markers as points of interest are Ingress and Pokémon GO. This chapter describes and discusses how PokéStop statues in Pokémon GO can be used in primary school outdoor sessions. A case study was conducted on how fifth-grade students learned about local history, social sciences and humanities during game sessions. Findings suggest that AR could be an inspiring  extension in educational settings, if activities are aligned to the surroundings and learning objectives and outdoor gaming activities are followed up in more traditional classroom sessions.
Peter Mozelius, Jimmy Jaldemark, Sofia Eriksson Bergström, Marcus Sundgren
Chapter 15. Get Gamified: Promoting Augmented Reality and Digital Game Technology in Education
Most educators agree it is important to remain current with trends and continue to add fresh, innovative ideas to enhance lessons. This responsibility means that as professionals, educators must continue to seek ways to better understand students so that their unique 21st century needs can be met. Children and youth are introduced to the virtual world from a young age, which implies the manners in how they associate with technology-innovation may impact the ways in which they learn, and therefore, the production or output of knowledge. For this reason, technology innovation should be a key component in curriculum design. This chapter will highlight two main concepts of gaming technology innovation: Augmented Reality (AR), and Digital Game Technology (DGT). Understanding such phenomenon is necessary to meet student learners where they are. Special attention will be given to AR in the field of health and physical education (PE), as this is one discipline where field professionals often disagree on the appropriateness of the use of digital technology. All professional educators; however, must recognize the important role technology plays in the lives of students and seek ways to motivate them while ‘talking their talk’.
Laura E. Bruno
Augmented Reality Games I
Prof. Vladimir Geroimenko
Copyright Year
Electronic ISBN
Print ISBN