Do you remember Pokémon Go? It was a hit augmented reality game that managed to drag a lot of people out to the streets. While its fame plummeted as quickly as it rised, it did get scientists thinking – does it help people with social anxiety? Now scientists from the University of British Columbia have the answer – extroverts were simply better at this game.
It is often said that video games are designed for introverts – people who love spending time alone at home. However, augmented reality games may be better for extroverts, according to this new study, which looked at the impact of players’ personalities, social competence and social anxiety when playing Pokémon Go. Gamers may be socially awkward and not confident at all, but it works against them when playing such mobile games as the Pokémon Go. It made people go out and interact with outside world while doing something obvious – catching Pokémon. Of course, to research player’s performance’s links to its social competences scientists had to recruit some gamers.
Experiment involved 101 Pokémon Go players between the ages of 18 and 28. At first they took a questionnaire, which assessed their personality, social anxiety and social competence and then they played the game for 20 minutes. Scientists found that extroverts did much better in the game – they caught more Pokémon, visited more PokéStops and travelled greater distances. Introverts were disadvantaged by their social anxiety – they were self-conscious, avoided contact with other players and did not share tips with each other. This gave scientists an idea – in the future similar games could be designed to actually help people who struggle in their social life.
Scientists are imagining a game, which would encourage players to engage in conversations and to establish social ties. Adri Khalis, lead author of the study, said: “In the beginning, players might only need to communicate with a person through text, but as the game reaches a higher level, they may have to actually be physically close to other players to collaborate and win”. Having in mind augmented reality games are likely to increase in popularity over time, this does not seem like a bad idea. However, this game could not be marketed as “help” because no one would play it.
It is interesting to see how performance in games can be associated with personality traits. Scientists say that such researchers can reveal the bigger picture of how different people engage in digital context.