Psychology Study of Pokémon Go

By: Muhammad Hidayat, S.Psi., M.Psi., Psikolog.

Clinic for Community Empowerment (CCE) Psychology Faculty of UAD


Since the game of Pokémon Go was released, it had become the trending topic in all levels of society starting from children, teenager and adult. They discussed about Pokémon Go. Some sources said that the downloaders number of the software application for this game reached more than ten millions. Took for example in America, there were more than seven millions of people downloaded this application. This kind of phenomenon was also happened in Indonesia some days ago.

Many people competed to post information about Pokémon Go through social media. Some of them shared negative news like traffic jam caused by Pokémon Go, how people plunged into a river, and accident. Because of these, some policy makers in certain institutions called on people not to play the game of Pokémon Go. Some TV stations also invited some interdisciplinary experts to discuss about the effects of Pokémon Go in their programs.

Rutledge (2016) said that the main factor of the success of the game was the combination between real and virtual world. Pokémon Go combined the experience of playing game with the real physical activity and encouraged people to interact with others. Furthermore, Pokémon Go was also occupied with some elements that were close to the real human behavior involving needs of interaction with others, need of exploring the environment, need of being capable and skillful.

From that phenomenon, there were many opinions coming up in relation to the negative and positive effects of Pokémon Go.  This phenomenon also encouraged the team of Clinic for Community Empowerment, Psychology Faculty of Ahmad Dahlan University (UAD) to have responsive action by doing mini research of psychological study of Pokémon Go game. This responsive action had been carried out from July to early August 2016. The result of this action was the comparison between positive and negative effects of Pokémon Go game, the result was in the following table.



Table of positive and negative effects of Pokémon Go game

Positive effects

Dampak negatif

  1. Deriving Pleasure. The users of Pokémon GO said that they got pleasure from this game. Most of them also said that the game could entertain and relieve sad.
  2. Encouraging the players to get out and move. This game requires the users to go out door and walk to hunt Pokémon. Mechanically, it will improve physical activity so that human body and physical condition more dynamic.
  3. Training to Achieve Target.  The structure and vivid level improvement of the game make the game interesting so that users are motivated to achieve the target.
  4. Improving Imagination and Creativity. One of the advantages of playing game is sharpening imagination and creativity. The game will stimulate users’ brain to think imaginatively and creatively.
  1. Game Addiction. This game enables users to be addicted. Consequently, users are eager to fulfil their ambition and ignoring of other things.
  1. Although encouraging people to move, this game makes people focus only on the screen. Users tend to be careless with their selves and environment. It is because users only focus on their phone screen. It also causes negative effects like traffic jam and accident.
  2. Social loafing. Users interaction in this game is not real. Consequently, it makes people reluctant to have real interaction with their environment by spending most of their time with their phone.  
  3. Self-control decrease. Addicted users tend to perform a variety of ways to fulfil their ambition. They tend to be careless with rules and environment as long as they can fulfil their ambition. This will make people to be unproductive and lack of self-control.  
  4. Being burdened. Technical way playing this game is to find and capture something so that users will be kept on standby. The adrenaline tends to rise which makes the physical state not relax. It makes the heart beating faster than usual.
  5. The users tend to have difficulty in differentiating the real world and fantasy.  This game combines real and virtual elements. When it is continuously played, addicted users will be hard to discern between realism and imagination. It is certainly bad for the physical and psychological condition of users.


From the description above, it can be concluded that the Pokémon GO game gives more negative effects than positive effects. Therefore, government and society are expected to be wise in responding to this phenomenon. Parents are also expected to have more time accompanying their children so that their children can be far for being addicted.


  1. Data from interview and group discussion forum of responsive action of Clinic for Community Empowerment (CCE), psychology of UAD 2016
  2. Social media

Notes: there is a little change at first paragraph. Previously, this paper explained that Pokémon GO was not officially released, but based on a news several days ago, Pokémon GO game was officially released and it can be downloaded in playstore. So, the writer changed some sentences.