除非你不关心新闻，不上网或者是个隐士，否则你便不会不注意到围绕着《Pokemon Go》的各种媒体新闻。我的小儿子以及他的所有朋友都会外出去享受这款最新游戏的乐趣。我看到许多新闻故事都是围绕着这款游戏“让人上瘾的”性能。而到底是什么原因让《Pokemon Go》变成这么一款具有强大吸引力的游戏呢。以下是我所认为的10个原因：
《Pokemon Go》突出了许多早前“经典的”Pokemon角色，这会让我们回想起20世纪90年代的时候。所以它既能吸引那些全新的年轻玩家，同时也能吸引那些在童年或青少年时期喜欢Pokemon的玩家去怀念自己的童年或青少年。也就是有些玩家可以体验到一些全新但也熟悉的内容。根据Constantine Sedikides和Tim Wildschut教授的研究，“怀旧感对于一个人的未来将会有深刻的影响。它能强化方法取向，培养乐观主义，唤醒灵感，推动创造性并激发亲社会性。比起逃避现实，怀旧感其实能够进一步壮大你的未来。”有些评论了《Pokemon》的大受欢迎的文章便引用了Jamie Madigan教授关于游戏怀旧元素的分析。他声称：“如果怀旧感能够发挥作用，它便能够激发一些正面情感，而我们的大脑将用‘这是否会让我开心’去替换‘这是否是一款好游戏？’的问题。”
在2000年代早中期的时候我发布了一系列关于玩在线多人游戏最重要的原因是因为社交性并且这让我们能够与其他玩家进行互动的文章。而在《Pokemon Go》中，玩家总是不可避免地将与其他玩家在游戏外部进行面对面的交流，我们也能够在此找到一些志趣相投的玩家。玩家或许还可以在这里交到一些新朋友或巩固与现有朋友间的关系。玩家间可以彼此交谈并分享体验。有些玩家甚至会去分享自己的怀旧感。而虽然如此《Pokemon Go》的玩家也可以选择独立游戏。可以说游戏提供给了玩家非常灵活的选择。
《Pokemon Go》最明确的一个功能便是AR，这也是游戏最基本的组成部分。AR指的是“通过计算机生成的感官输入，如声音，视频，图像或GPS数据而增强（或补充）玩家直接或间接感受到的现实世界环境的元素。”《Pokemon Go》便成功将AR整合到游戏中并让角色变得“更真实”。《时代》杂志上一篇关于实境的文章表示，《Pokemon Go》呈现给了玩家“野生Pokemon存在于现实世界中并等待着玩家去捕抓的幻觉”。还有些人声称AR具有潜在的瘾性。有些人还声称孩子们在AR瘾性中是最危险的：
任何玩过电子游戏或对这方面有研究的人都知道成功的游戏必须能够激励玩家去游戏。《Pokemon Go》中的奖励便能够帮助玩家获得成就以及游戏中具有激励因子的目标。Keep It Suitable网站上的一篇文章这么写道：“正是来自实现目标（捕抓皮卡丘）的自信激励着人们不断游戏，即《Pokemon Go》玩家受到了有效的推动。每次当你的手机响起时你便能够获得奖励，即它将提醒你周围有Pokemon，而这也是一种非常基本的心理状态。”
在我之前写过的一些文章中我曾谈过收集心理，而这也是《Pokemon Go》吸引人的元素之一。我曾在文章中引用过Russel Belk教授的的作品，因为他写过许多有关这一主题的书籍和论文。他也曾就《Pokemon Go》接受过《Forbes》杂志的采访。杂志上的文章是这么写的：
“在1991年于《Journal of Social Behavior and Personality》的一篇文章上Belk描述了两种主要的收集类型：美学的和分类的。关于美学的收集会出现在目标并非有限的时候，这也将基于个人喜好而为你的收集添加趣味。关于美学的收集包括图像，但却不包括神奇宝贝。就像Belk所说的，‘我希望不管Pokemon是好看还是丑陋，对于它们都不存在任何有关美的判断。’你希望能够收集到全部或者尽可能多的Pokemon。收集Pokemon就像是收集货币或邮票一样。这也涉及到了分类—-即命名并划分内容到不同群组的过程。分类收集有可能会突然结束并在之后再次出现：就像最初在Game Boy上的游戏（《Pokémon Red》和《Pokémon Blue》）便突出了151个怪兽”种类“，而续集更是将这一数值推向了700。如果《Pokemon Go》在之后继续保持这样的人气且能够不断赚钱，该应用的开发者肯定会在游戏中添加更多种Pokemon。Belk还表示他希望收集不应该是受到完成这一任务的需求的推动。“玩家并不是为了收集到更大或更厉害的对象。如果是这样的话这便存在某种社交比较性，即某些玩家的收集在某种程度上比其他玩家厉害。”
在同一篇文章中还应用了Belk教授在杂志《Current Opionion in Psychology》上所发布的文献综述。在文章中Belk声称如今收集已经超越了实体道具的范畴并将包含一些数字内容的收集。Belk是这么说的：
许多关于《Pokemon Go》的文章都强调了玩这款游戏便意味着玩家必须走到户外并行走一段距离去捕抓Pokemon。总之如果你想要在游戏中有不错的表现你就必须走出家门并做些运动。有一篇文章是这么说的：“《Pokemon Go》在24个小时内便做到了Michelle Obama在8年中未曾实现的奔跑米姆（游戏邦注：在诸如语言、观念、信仰、行为方式等的传递过程中与基因在生物进化过程中所起的作用相类似的那个东西）：让人们走出去运动。最终证明健康活动的游戏化是可行的的，这对于我们的社会中不存在有关游戏的健康记录来说是最好的反驳。”就我个人来讲，虽然我不认为《Pokemon Go》和传统的运动式游戏（如玩Wii Sports）一样好，但我也不会去否定它将人们带离久坐模式的事实。
在过去几年里我写过无数关于随机比例强化时间表（作为重复行为的基础）的角色的文章。简单地说，玩一款电子游戏或老虎机会带给玩家间歇性且不可预测的奖励。在长期游戏中如果玩家清楚奖励何时会出现便会很无聊，但在像《Pokemon Go》这样的游戏中玩家永远都不知道下一个奖励在哪里。如果是玩家所期待的奖励出现，他们的多巴胺也会因此受到刺激。实际上，Patrick Anselm和Mike Robinson教授发布在杂志《Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience》的论文便描述了比起奖励本身，多巴胺更多地是受到奖励的不可预期性的影响，并且他们也表示玩家决定玩电子游戏的动机是由他们预测不到奖励何时会出现的影响。总之《Pokemon Go》可以将玩家更长久地留在游戏中。
10 psychosocial reasons why ‘Pokémon Go’ is so appealing
by Mark Griffiths
Unless you’re news-shy, off-grid, and/or a hermit, you can’t fail to have noticed all the media hype surrounding Pokémon Go. My youngest son and seemingly all of is friends have been out and about enjoying playing the latest gaming phenomenon. A lot of the press stories that I have read concentrate on the allegedly ‘addictive’ properties of the game (see ‘Further reading’ below). But what makes Pokémon Go such an appealing game? Here are my top ten reasons:
(1) It’s a popular franchise with a novel twist
Pokémon is a huge franchise with lots of associated spin-offs (animates films, carton television show, card games, figures to collect, etc.). And unlike some franchises, it’s a game that appears to be popular across age and gender but various aspects of the game (such as the use of augmented reality) give the game a novel twist on most other games (by utilizing real-world locations in which players explore their neighbourhood locality or wherever they happen to be).
(2) It’s fun, free to play, easy to play, and easy to access
Unlike many popular games, you don’t need a dedicated console to play the game. There is little in the way of barriers to entry. Anyone who has a smartphone can download Pokémon Go and it can be played anywhere at any time because it is played on a mobile device in which players try to catch Pokémon at specific locations (‘PokéStops’). This means that the number of potential users is huge, even in comparison to console games. In addition, there are no complicated buttons to press or controls to use. Most importantly it’s fun and free to play (but players can buy in-game items, an area that I’ve done a bit of research on which I outlined in a previous blog).
(3) It’s nostalgic and a ‘blast from the past’
Pokémon Go features many of the early ‘classic’ Pokémon characters (the ones that you could name in a pub quiz) hailing back to the 1990s. As well as attracting new and younger players, adults who loved Pokémon as a child or teenager can now re-live some of their childhood and adolescence. In short, some players can experience something new yet familiar. A research review carried out by Dr. Constantine Sedikides and Dr. Tim Wildschut demonstrated that “nostalgia has remarkable implications for one’s future. It strengthens approach orientation, raises optimism, evokes inspiration, boosts creativity, and kindles prosociality. Far from reflecting escapism from the present, nostalgia potentiates an attainable future”. A number of online articles coomenting on the popularity of Pokémon have included quotes about the game’s nostalgic element from Dr. Jamie Madigan (author of the 2015 book Getting Gamers: The Psychology of Video Games and Their Impact on People Who Play Them). He asserted that “if nostalgia is in play, and it evokes this positive emotion…our brain can substitute the question, ‘Does this make me happy’ for ‘Is this a good game?’”
(4) It’s a social game (if you want it to be)
Back in the early and mid-2000s I published a number of studies showing that the most important reason for playing online multiplayer games was for social reasons and to connect and interact with other players. The great think about Pokémon Go is that meeting other players face-to-face is almost inevitable as the game is played outside and on the move, and it’s easy to spot other like-minded players. People can make new friendships or consolidate existing ones. Players talk to each other and can share their experiences. Some may even have shared memories that plugs into feelings of nostalgia. However, Pokémon Go players (if they so wish) can play on their own too. The game is flexible enough to adapt to the player.
(5) It features augmented reality
One of the defining features of Pokémon Go is that augmented reality is a fundamental (and arguably the main) part of the game. Augmented reality (AR) is defined as “a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS [global positioning system] data”. Pokémon Go has successfully managed to embed AR into the game which some players claim makes characters feel “more alive”. An article on the phenomenon in Time magazine said that Pokémon Go provides “the illusion that wild Pokémon are out there in the real world, waiting to be caught”. There are also some claims (such as a paper by Dr. Keith Bujak and his colleagues in a paper published in a 2013 issue of the journal Computers and Education) that augmented reality can be potentially addictive. The authors claim that children are most at risk from AR addiction and assert that:
“Augmented reality does not separate the user from his reality but instead uses it and realistically transforms it…This effect can cause a high degree of surprise and curiosity in users”.
(6) It’s motivating
Any one who plays videogames or researches in the area knows that successful games have to be motivating to play. Rewards within Pokémon Go help players to foster achievement, and achieving goals within the game drives motivation. As an article on the Keep It Suitable website noted: “The self-confidence that arises from the achievement of a goal – catching a Pikachu – motivates people to play more and more…and ‘Pokémon Go’ players are indeed very motivated…The ease with which the reward comes every time your phone buzzes, alerting you that a Pokémon is nearby, is very basic psychological conditioning”.
(7) It involves collecting
In a number of my previous articles I have written about the psychology of collecting and this also appears to be one of the attractions concerning all things Pokémon (in fact the Pokémon mantra has always been “Gotta catch ‘em all”)In my articles I have always referenced the work of Professor Russell Belk who has written a lot of books and papers on the topic. He was interviewed by Forbes magazine on the topic of Pokémon Go. The Forbes article noted:
“In a 1991 article published in the ‘Journal of Social Behavior and Personality’, Belk described two main types of collecting: aesthetic and taxonomic. Aesthetic collecting occurs when objects aren’t in limited supply and so adding things to your collection depends on personal preferences. This includes artwork, but not pocket monsters. ‘I expect no matter how beautiful or ugly the Pokémon is, there’s relatively little aesthetic judgment,” says Belk…’You want them all — or as many as possible’. Collecting Pokémon is a lot like building a coin or stamp collection. It involves taxonomy – the process of naming and classifying things into groups. Taxonomic collecting can end temporarily but continue later: the original Game Boy games (Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue) featured 151 monster ‘species,’ but sequels have pushed that number over 700. If ‘Pokémon Go’ remains popular and profitable in the long term, the app’s developer will no doubt add new species. Belk adds that the desire to collect isn’t driven by a need to complete a collection. ‘You’re not striving for that closure as much as striving for bigger and better collections…That implies some social comparisons – that your collection is in some sense better than theirs.”
In the same article, reference was also made to a just published literature review (‘Extended self and the digital world’) by Professor Belk in the journal Current Opinion in Psychology. In the paper Belk claims collecting has now gone beyond physical items and can now include the collecting of digital artefacts. As Belk notes:
“Collecting digital objects can have advantages over physical possessions. While coins and stamps are kept in cabinets at home, you can store an entire collection of ‘Pokémon’ on your phone to show friends…One reason why ‘Pokémon Go’ is so popular is that it puts digital monsters in the real world. Like finding a rare book in an antique shop, this turns the discovery of Pokémon — the challenge or thrill of the chase — into a story. With augmented reality, they’ve made the ‘thrill of the hunt’ in a version where you can tweet about it, you can post about it on your website, you can carry around images of the Pokémon that you’ve collected…That’s a conversation piece, and something you can carry with you or brag about online.”
(8) It gets people active without them knowing it
A number of articles on Pokémon Go have noted that playing the game has meant players having to go outdoors and walk miles to catch the Pokémon. In short, if you want to do well in the game, you have to get out the house and do some exercise. As one article summed up on this aspect: ‘The running meme is that Pokémon Go managed to do in 24 hours what Michelle Obama could not manage over the course of 8 years: get people outside and active…It turns out gamification of healthy activities can be done and that’s potentially a huge win for the gaming subset of our society that doesn’t exactly have the healthiest track record”. Personally, I’m not convinced that Pokémon Go is as good as more traditional ‘exergaming’ (such as playing Wii Sports) but I can’t deny that it gets people out of a sedentary routine.
(9) It’s a never-ending game
Pokémon Go is a non-linear game in which every user’s playing experience is different given that it uses the person’s individual geo-location. Like many massively multiplayer online games, there is no end to the game and some players continue playing because of FOMO (fear of missing out). Ultimately there is theoretically no limit to how many Pokémon a player can catch or how the game might evolve over time.
(10) The rewards are unpredictable
Over the years I have written countless papers talking about the role of random ratio reinforcement schedules (operant condition processes) that underlie repetitive behaviour (that in extreme cases can result in gambling and gaming addictions). In simple terms, playing a videogame or a slot machine results in intermittent and unpredictable rewards. Knowing when a reward is coming gets boring in the long run but games where the player doesn’t know when the next reward is coming (like when in the Pokémon Go game, the player will next see a Pokémon to catch). Anticipated rewards (similarly to actual rewards) also facilitate dopamine (one of the most important ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters in the human body) release in the body. In fact, a paper by Dr. Patrick Anselm and Dr. Mike Robinson published in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience argued that dopamine release “seems to reflect the unpredictability of reward delivery rather than reward per se” and suggests that the motivation to gamble or play videogames “is strongly (though not entirely) determined by the inability to predict reward occurrence”. In short, playing Pokémon Go can keep you playing longer than you might have originally intended.(source:gamasutra)