A Sense of Belonging: Pokémon GO and Social Connectedness

Published on Sep 1, 2019in Games and Culture1.9
· DOI :10.1177/1555412017719973
Kellie Vella8
Estimated H-index: 8
(QUT: Queensland University of Technology),
Daniel Johnson34
Estimated H-index: 34
(QUT: Queensland University of Technology)
+ 4 AuthorsCody Phillips7
Estimated H-index: 7
(QUT: Queensland University of Technology)
The free-to-play mobile game Pokemon GO’s (PGO) use of real-world mapping encourages play in public spaces, opening up the possibility of greater engagement with other players, local communities, and surrounds. This study conducted a series of interviews (N = 15) and collected online social forum reports of gameplay (N = 880), in order to determine what the social outcomes of play may be and what mechanisms might be facilitating the social connectedness. Thematic analysis revealed that playing PGO produced a sense of belonging, linked to a sense of place, as well as facilitating conversations with strangers and strengthening social ties. This was due to the use of accessible technology able to be integrated into daily routines, shared passion for the game, and mechanics that encouraged players out of their homes. “Shared passion” was tied to the nostalgic connection many players felt for the franchise. This study shows how gameplay can build social connectedness through real-world engagement.
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