Pokémon Go arguably depicts the most popular adoption of augmented reality (AR) technology on any platform and particularly mobile games during the conduct of this research. The mobile location-based game was launched in July 2016, to the delight of millions of people globally. Pokémon Go requires people to physically navigate the real world in the course of playing the game; this was a relatively new experience for many especially as a mobile game. The need to physically navigate the real world in Pokémon Go prompted the quest to examine what impacts Pokémon Go has on college students. Specifically, we focus on the impact on their social interaction and physical activity as there were studies that have shown that traditional mobile games and video games have made people become anti-social, adopt sedentary lifestyles resulting in various issues in social and health aspects. This research aims to acquire a better understanding of how AR games like Pokémon Go impacts social interaction and physical activity, and to recommend guidelines for developing similar augmented reality games to promote social interaction and physical activity. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with twenty participants attending a college in the mid-western region of the United States of America. Our findings revealed that Pokémon Go encouraged increased social interaction among family, friends and strangers. Participants also enjoyed some health and educational benefits as a result of playing Pokémon Go. We also identified some challenges and concerns of playing Pokémon Go which borders on personal safety and security, circumvention of game design as well as privacy. Our findings led us to propose recommendation for augmented reality game design that will promote social interaction and physical activity. These include incorporating social game components to enhance players’ overall gaming experience, addressing game design circumvention by developing algorithms that will intelligently permit cheating or out rightly prevent cheating. We also recommended a more transparent and flexible permission requests to address privacy concerns.
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Examining the Impacts of Pokémon Go on the Physical Health and Social Interaction among College Students