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Gotta Catch ‘Em All: How Pokémon Go Broke the Barrier for Augmented Reality

Thematic analysis of newspaper articles about the Pokémon Go phenomena in the United States, predominantly from summer 2016.

Published onMar 01, 2018
Gotta Catch ‘Em All: How Pokémon Go Broke the Barrier for Augmented Reality

Gotta Catch ‘Em All: How Pokémon Go Broke the Barrier for Augmented Reality

Katlin M. Hiller & Christine M. Holmes
Universität Leipzig – JVC Winter Semester 2017/18

Before there was augmented reality, there was virtual reality, and its beginning is a lot earlier than expected in terms of the current fascination with such technologies. Most people probably don’t know that virtual reality was first explored in 1990s- probably because it wasn’t very successful. The word “virtual reality” (VR) was a buzzword in the 1990s. There was much excitement for the technology, and it was apparent in sales for devices, such as for video games. In 1995, Virtual Boy VR by Nintendo sold 770 thousand gaming consoles even with the technology limitations of the day (Bellini, 2016). Despite the initial success of virtual reality, the products still ended up failing from the consumer standpoint, resulting in the end of a short-lived era. Developers still didn’t give up, and are again trying to promote a product that consumers have rejected. Hot on the tech market today are VR headsets, which allow users to step into a virtual world and become fully immersed in that environment. Leading the way in VR development is American technology company, Oculus. The head of Oculus, Jason Rubin, is well aware of that initial consumer experience and is careful not to make promises of mass-market success for VR out of concern that such talk could trigger bad experience memories for consumers who bought into the VR hype of the 1990s (O’Brien, 2016).  Rubin attributes the previous virtual reality failure to technology challenges of the day. He compared the headsets then to wearing TVs on faces with low resolution and a volume level much too loud for an enjoyable experience (O’Brien, 2016). A 2016 Goldman Sachs report on the state of virtual reality blames the failure in the 1990s on poor graphic capabilities, time lags while viewing, low computing power, and price tags beyond consumers’ reservation prices.

More than 20 years later, VR producers are more confident than ever about the capabilities of present-day and future virtual reality technology. Oculus’ head of content thinks a lot of the original problems that caused VR to fail have now been solved. He said the technology is now capable of achieving high refresh rates with low latency on screens that don’t cost a lot, but are of high resolution (O’Brien, 2016). Goldman Sachs attributes those affordances to the mobile phone industry, noting immense improvement with device size, price, and performance. Additionally, the report says computers have improved enough to support VR with enough power to render the graphics (Bellini, 2016).  

Even with the hopefulness exhibited by those in the VR industry, critics of 3D television and its failure advise VR enthusiasts to proceed with caution. One critic predicts virtual reality won’t be as popular as all the hype makes it out to be (Rotter, 2017). Rotter, a technology expert, thinks that the reason VR will be unsuccessful is because consumers are satisfied with 2D screens because it allows for socialization rather than a solitary activity. Rotter thinks technology like 3D TV and even VR can mislead even experienced market players, leading to investment washouts. He advises people to be cautious the next time a technology like 3D TV comes around, much like VR (Rotter, 2017). During a public discussion following a presentation at Ohio University by USA Today’s director of Virtual Reality, Robert Padavick, one concerned audience member made the comparison of the failure of 3D television, a technology similar to virtual reality, and asked what’s different about VR. Padavick’s answer to that question was that virtual reality is an entirely new medium. He said it’s not the same as 3D TV, which is a slight alteration to the already established medium of television (Padavick, 2017). Even with all the doubt associated with the success of the second wave of virtual reality, a very similar technology, augmented reality (AR), gave the doubters a run for their money in during the summer of 2016 in a mobile game known as Pokémon Go.

Between the years 1996 and 2001, Pokémon was all the rage in Japan and the United States. Beginning as a handheld Gameboy game, Pokémon quickly evolved into a franchise featuring games, trading cards, television shows, movies, toys, and more. The television series was one of the most successful children’s programs in history (Tobin, 2004). When the augmented reality mobile-based game, Pokémon Go, officially hit the United States market in July 2016, the game was an instant sensation. The game, which uses players’ mobile phone’s GPS system to track users’ locations, then uses the phone’s camera to place an image of a game character in a player’s current surroundings. When a character appears, a player can tap the screen to make an attempt to catch the character and earn points. A virtual Pokéball will appear with which the player can use to capture the character, all in the palm of one’s hand.

For millennials, who played the original 1996 Pokémon game designed for the Game Boy, the augmented reality version of a classic brought with it a touch of nostalgia; for families, the game presented a new way to spend time together; for young adults (some of whom also fit into the millennial category), the game brought a new way to experience a city – and in a few cases, a chance to make a few bucks; for critics, the game sparked a debate about the pervasiveness of the reach of its playing field and a wave of privacy-related concerns. Similar to all viral sensations, eventually the hype surrounding the game’s release and immediate popularity died down, was met with controversy and criticism, and ended up fizzling out. Over the course of this first year, however, coverage related to the game published in the New York Times provides an interesting perspective and indicator for how society positions augmented reality gaming and places importance on certain places and activities.

Using the New York Times coverage, this study seeks to answer the following research question: In what ways, if any, has Pokemon Go made any progress in the advancement of Augmented Reality?


From July 2016-July 2017, the New York Times published almost 250 articles related in some manner to the game. These were narrowed down by determining which articles were actually related to the game itself (e.g. not a reference to Hillary Clinton’s “Pokémon Go To the Polls” comment, which made up a sizable number of the initial sample), were accessible via the New York Times’s web archives (e.g. not those published via a wire service such as Reuters or the Associated Press and were no longer available on the Times’s website), and those that were also related to the gaming or augmented reality industry. The headlines of articles from Reuters and the Associated Press seemed to deal more with problems related to the game, such as players causing car accidents, or countries reacting negatively to the game for a variety of reasons. In order to learn about the perception of Pokémon Go, the researchers performed a thematic analysis of articles published in The New York Times after Pokémon Go’s release in the summer of 2016. The researchers chose The New York Times because it serves as the record of the day for the United States and is one of the most widely circulated newspapers in the United States. A total of 36 articles were analyzed between July 2016 and October of 2017. Not knowing which direction the articles would go (cultural, economic, commentary, etc.), the researchers didn’t approach the analysis with specific research questions in mind, thus the choice of thematic analysis. Over time, the tone of the articles seemed to increase in negativity, especially as issues related to the appropriateness of playing it at memorial sites or backlash produced in certain countries made headlines. After narrowing down the sample, 36 articles were found to match the aforementioned criteria and were subsequently analyzed. The following themes were identified in the sample of articles: “Health and Exercise,” “The Nostalgia Effect,” “Socialization and Tourism,” “The Business of Gaming,” “Backlash and Criticism,” and “Youth Protection.” Many gamers and gaming experts were surprised by the uncharacteristic affordance of exercise as provided by the augmented reality feature of the game. Therefore, many of the articles published in the New York Times focused on that aspect alone. Some articles fit well in multiple categories, as many discussed various benefits and drawbacks of Pokémon Go. In the present study, the category “Health and Exercise” included four articles; the category “The Nostalgia Effect” included six articles; the category “Socialization and Tourism” included 11 articles; the category “The Business of Gaming” included 13 articles; the category “Backlash and Criticism” also included 13 articles; and the category “Youth Protection” included three articles. The following section details the aforementioned categories and how the articles of the sample fit together in the following categories. As per the typical Internet reaction to a product “going viral,” a lot of media attention was paid to Pokémon Go after its initial release, but seems to have died down as the hype surrounding the game faded and the seasons changed.


Health and Exercise

“If you had told me a week ago I should go outside, I would have said, What?,” is what one Pokémon Go fan told the New York Times during San Francisco’s largest gathering of Pokémon Go players in the summer of 2016 (Streitfeld, 2016). That person was not alone. Part of the draw of augmented reality is related to a player’s ability to interact not only with the virtual world within the game in which he or she is engaging, but also in the player’s own physical environment as opposed to merely being a bystander. Similar to the way a player manipulates his or her character to complete tasks and level up, Pokémon Go includes the same features and functions of a typical game, but instead of manipulating a character on a screen, the player is immersed in the game and takes on that first person role. One element that seemed to make Pokémon Go so different from other games is the fact that in order to complete the tasks needed to level up and continue game play, a player has to physically move from one location to another. Whereas other games open the door to stereotypes such as gamers sitting still and staring at a screen for hours on end, Pokémon Go increased step counts across the country and got kids and adults alike outside.

One article from July 2016, “Pokémon Has Kids on the Move – and On Their Phones,” specifically speaks to the health benefits brought by playing the game. The columnist who wrote this particular article expected the real-world component of hunting for the creatures to be a turn-off for potential players – instead “even teenagers are inviting siblings and parents along. Add in the likelihood of meeting other players at Poké-stops, and the game begins to feel like a social event” (Dell’Atonia, 2016). One parent interviewed for another story marveled at the fact that the game requires users to walk around (using a pedometer to ensure compliance) and was excited about the health benefits that come with typical game play (Jula, 2016). However, this sentiment was not shared across the board. One columnist wrote that though the game encourages physical activity outside and could be a motivator or gateway for children with special needs or fears, without balance and time away from the screens, technology “can drain our ability to pay attention, to think clearly, to be productive and creative” (Louv, 2016). However, this author also notes that humans have always utilized technology to interact with their environments, for example, using binoculars for bird watching or a fishing rod to reel in the catch of the day. Another writer also compared the game to bird watching, but added that Pokémon Go is a digitally enhanced version of the hobby. The same columnist referred to Pokémon Go as “a game for children now reconfigured into a high-tech sport for all” (Streitfeld, 2016).  

The Nostalgia Effect

Given the game’s overwhelming popularity at the time of its release, young Pokémasters (a name for the game players, who seek to become “masters” by finding and capturing the characters in the virtual universe) in the making were not the only people who spent summer 2016 catching Charmander and searching for Squirtle (characters in the game who can be virtually “caught” for points, the 2017 version of trading Pokémon cards that rose to popularity in the 1990s and early 2000s). The millennial generation also got in on the action. In an article from July 13, 2016, Pokémon Go is hailed as millennials’ first “nostalgia blast,” or their first mass-consumption nostalgia product (Hardy, 2016). A New York Times reporter was sent out one weekend to play the game, and remarked on the impact of the game on his youth: “...I can’t help admitting, somewhat reluctantly, the fun I had wandering around my city, catching these goofy monsters and talking to other people about how to do it. Even though I didn’t play much as a kid, Pokémon is a cultural touchstone of my youth, something that stoked a sense of nostalgia – and something I suddenly became invested in” (Isaac, 2016). One fan agreed with this Times writer, and, bottle of wine in hand, went as far as saying the revamped game was his childhood coming into fruition (Streitfeld, 2016). For those a little too old to understand the Pokémon craze, one writer compared the nostalgia millennials were feeling to the acting career of John Travolta. Once widely popular for his role in the hit movie Grease, Travolta’s days in the spotlight fizzled to less popular roles in movies like Staying Alive and Look Who’s Talking Too (Kerstetter, 2016). Just as Travolta was forgotten, so was Pikachu, but unlike Travolta, Pikachu got a second life. In “Fahrad’s and Mike’s Week in Tech” from July 16, 2016, Pokémon Go and its nostalgia effect was part of the conversation. Though this game certainly drew individuals in with its nostalgia factor, they argued that the game was such a big hit because “the social bonds around this game are fascinating, mostly because they have nothing to do with the software itself” (Manjoo, 2016). This seems to imply that the game’s popularity developed naturally and grew organically. In this way, the game had a rebirth in the form of an augmented reality sensation, and brought both older and younger fans along for the ride.

Socialization and Tourism

The reach of the game beyond one’s typical circle of friends goes beyond a common nostalgia-inducing product – it encourages children and adults alike to leave the comfort of their computer screens and venture out into their neighborhoods (and beyond!) to meet other people and explore new places. Poké-stops are found in a variety of areas – in one case, this meant that a Poké-stop was in very close proximity to a tow lot; in another, it means that a hotspot for K2 addicts doubles as a hotspot for Charmander chasers (Wilson, 2016). In an opinion column from the July 13 Room For Debate section, one author praises the game for bringing young people outside to socialize with one another and to interact with neighbors (Race, 2016). In another column from the same collection, the author jokes about getting sunburnt and shares a self-revelation: “Pokémon Go gave me new eyes with which to look at my city. It pushed me to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air, and to strike up conversations with strangers. What more could you ask for of any game – digital or otherwise?” (Jeong, 2016). Yet another columnist speaks to the same idea: “...But wandering my neighborhood, progressing downtown toward Poké-stops – blue diamonds scattered among communities that revitalize your avatar’s supplies – my world suddenly became foreign. I noticed everything. I stood on Sandusky Street, the town’s main drag, amassing Poké Balls, and read from a small blue bubble that on this site, 153 years ago, residents formed the Fifth United States Colored Troops” (Butcher, 2016). This previously unknown (to the author) factoid was just another draw of the game, to learn more about her home city and the streets she walked down on a regular basis. In San Francisco, while on assignment for his piece on Pokémon Go near his own office, a journalist was found himself learning about the history of his own town– a plaque marking the birthplace of American poet, Robert Frost: “This was a promising omen, Pokémon telling me interesting things I never knew about a locale steps from my office” (Streitfeld, 2016). The same story is true for a mother who found enjoyed catching Pokémon while being educated on the history and culture of her own city (Gonchar, 2016). Beyond just meeting neighbors and spending more time outside, several articles also talked about the implications of using Pokémon Go in tourism. An article titled “Let Pokémon Go Be Your Tour Guide” details tips for how to utilize the game as a traveler (Sablich, 2016), and one of the aforementioned columns (Butcher, 2016) even discussed how the author and her boyfriend drove out to a state park in pursuit of a water creature in the game, then stayed to swim at the lake and spend time at the park after catching said water creature, which they otherwise probably would not have visited. Travelers even had the option to book their next trip using a search engine featuring a “PokéView filter” to choose accommodations near Poké-gyms and Poké-stops (Glusac, 2016).

Backlash and Criticism

Despite all of the positive attention the game garnered with regards to its use in health, socialization, and travel, there was also significant backlash from around the world, especially at memorial sites such as the (U.S.) National September 11 Memorial in New York City and the site of the former Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland. In an article titled “Where Pokémon Should Not Go,” both of these examples are cited, as well as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. and Arlington National Cemetery in northern Virginia, as locations where playing Pokémon Go should not be allowed. In a statement, a spokesman from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum stressed the importance of technology as a learning tool, but not in the case of a game such as Pokémon Go at a site such as this memorial. A spokesman for the Auschwitz Memorial agreed, and said that “allowing such games to be active on the site of Auschwitz Memorial is disrespectful to the memory of the victims of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp on so many levels” (Bromwich, 2016). A Russian blogger was sentenced to three and a half years in prison after being convicted of inciting religious hatred while playing Pokémon Go inside a church in Russia and posting his video online (Associated Press, 2017). In Indonesia, the game was called a national threat as it could “enable (Indonesia’s) enemies to gain access to top-secret data and penetrate sensitive government and military sites” after members of the country’s armed forces and National Police were barred from playing the game while on duty (Cochrane, 2016). In a similar vein, other countries have expressed concern about the game: Saudi Arabia declared the game “un-Islamic” and renewed an existing fatwa against Pokémon; Bosnia warned players against chasing creatures onto land mines; and Egypt, like Indonesia, cited security concerns and called the game “the latest tool used by spy agencies in the intel­ war, a cunning despicable app that tries to infiltrate our communities in the most innocent way under the pretext of entertainment” (Zraick, 2016). Concerns about security were not only found outside of the United States, however. Prior to an update that the company said fixed the issues, anyone who looked closely at the terms and conditions could see that in addition to requesting access to location data and a player’s smartphone camera, agreeing to the terms and conditions would also give the company full access to a user’s Google accounts (Turkle, 2016).

One other focus of the negative coverage during the first year of Pokémon Go’s life was health related. While several of the articles discussed earlier in this paper emphasized potential health benefits of Pokémon Go, such as increased interactivity and socialization, not to mention increased physical activity due to the movement required for leveling up, several articles also touched on some of the negative health implications brought to the surface by this game. While players did get outside, the way they packed their bags was much different from a person planning to spend their day on a hiking trail. Instead of backpacks full of trail mix and water, Pokémasters filled their backs with cords and chargers. Rather than escaping to from electronics, players were more connected to their devices than ever (Streitfeld, 2016). One columnist from the Room For Debate collection (referenced earlier) points out that while kids may be going outside and interacting with others in person instead of just from the comfort of their computer screens, time playing the game is still technically screen time: “Even though a child may be playing this game outside, his brain is functioning in the exact same way it would if he were spending hours in an arcade... The only difference is now he needs sunscreen” (Race, 2016). Another column in the same Room For Debate collection says that interacting with the actual real world, rather than the augmented version presented in Pokémon Go, is essential to properly dialoguing with children about their lives and how to solve real-world problems (Hudson, 2016).

As the game became more widespread, so did the incidents related to Pokémon Go. Bizarre reports began popping up across the country and the world. It wasn’t unusual to run into crowds of people with their eyes glued to their phones, some even wandering into traffic without realizing their actions. There were reports of people falling off cliffs, even discovering dead bodies while playing the game (Streitfeld, 2016). But the most dangerous reports involved distracted driving. A driver playing the game was caught on video side-sweeping a police car in Baltimore (Streitfeld, 2016), and in Japan, a pedestrian was killed by a man playing the game while driving and another person was injured (Soble, 2016).

Youth Protection

Other concerns associated with the game involved protecting some of Pokémon Go’s youngest enthusiasts. One of seemingly innocent function of the game known as a lure module allows players in close proximity to where the lure was placed to advance in the game. However, some lawmakers were concerned that, in the wrong hands, a lure could find children victims of abduction and violence (Milanaik, R., et al., 2016).  In New York, a lawmaker proposed new legislation that would require sexual offenders be banned from playing Pokémon Go and similar augmented reality games, and game makers would be required to take into account the homes of registered sex offenders when designing their game maps (McKinley, 2016). That lawmaker launched an informal investigation in New York City by taking a list of 100 registered sex offenders and comparing their home addresses to popular locations in Pokémon Go. The investigators found that 59 Poké-stops were located within half a block of a sex offender’s home, and another 57 Pokémon were found near homes from the list (McKinley, 2016). Eventually, legislation was passed that requires sex offenders in the state of New York who are granted parole to agree to register as sex offenders, stay clear of schools and playgrounds, and abstain from playing Pokémon Go (Rosenberg, 2016).

The Business of Gaming

While the health, security, and socialization aspects of the game can be interpreted in a variety of ways, the impact of Pokémon Go on the industry and business side is slightly more cut and dry. Though over time the game has weaned in popularity and the industry has continued to evolve, when the game was first released, the industry was booming. The first article in this sample, from July 11, 2016, said “Pokémon Go represents one of those moments when a new technology – in this case, augmented reality or AR, which fuses digital technology with the physical world – breaks through from a niche toy for early adopters to something much bigger” (Wingfiled, 2016). One defining factor of this incredible out-the-door success the article credits to the fact that users don’t need special equipment (such as goggles or a controller) to play the game – all they need is their phones (Tam, 2016). At the time of its release, Pokémon Go was cited as a tipping point for the gaming and technology industries, and markets seemed to react accordingly. At the game’s peak, Apple was projected to have taken in $3 billion from Pokémon Go downloads on iPhone due to a jump in stock prices (Streitfeld, 2016). Other businesses boomed as a side effect of Pokémon Go’s wide success. With the game’s ability to mix virtual worlds with the real world, new, real world business was created. In Japan, McDonald’s, which was in a slump, reached a 15-year high after striking a deal with Niantic, the company credited with the creation of Pokémon Go (Soble, 2016). The original location check-in app, Foursquare, saw a resurgence in popularity in correlation with Pokémon Go, seeing daily check-ins reach record highs near 8 million (Isaac, 2016). Unity Technologies, the company whose software was used to create this and other top mobile games, was valued by investors at about $1.5 billion in mid-July 2016 (Wingfield, 2016). Nintendo, the Japanese video game company that started the Pokémon craze back in the 1990s, took an early lead in mobile gaming, and according to one article, “proceeded to blow it,” “offer(ing) a lesson in how corporate cultures can make or break a company” (Wingfield, 2016) The article cites a primary reason for Pokémon Go’s existence as Nintendo’s partnership with Niantic Inc., without which the game might not have been produced. But others didn’t knock the success of Pokémon Go so quickly. Another writer saw Pokémon Go as the door to bringing beloved Nintendo games to the mobile platform: “Pokémon Go has been pretty strong proof that this change could work, even if Pokémon is not wholly owned by Nintendo. The game, an augmented-reality smash, has been downloaded half a billion times. Nintendo watchers have assumed that other well-known characters like Mario and Zelda would eventually follow Pokémon onto smartphones” (Webb, 2016). A venture capitalist credited the success of Pokémon Go and the willingness to bring classic games to mobile devices with the pent-up demand for such nostalgic games (Goel, 2016). Beyond the large-scale industry players, there are others cashing in on the game: “Shortly after Pokémon Go was released and became a global sensation, a micro-industry of self-anointed Pokémon Sherpas has blossomed” an article from July 20, 2016 says (Williams, 2016). For some behind the predominantly Craigslist-based industry, playing the game helps pay rent or pay for startups that ran out of seed money. An Uber driver moonlights as a “Pokémon chauffeur” so players don’t play the game while driving themselves (Williams, 2016).

Discussion and Conclusion

Coming back to the question that sparked the research, “In what ways, if any, has Pokemon Go made any progress in the advancement of Augmented Reality?,” it is now quite clear through the news coverage analyzed that Pokemon Go left a positive experience for its thousands of users. While the game fizzled off in popularity after just one summer, the impact it made for augmented reality developers is so important. Pokemon Go gave people a chance to relax without completely disconnecting from the physical world; it allowed for physical and real interactions with other player in the real world; it kept people active and healthy, and it sparked economic interest with businesses and investors. All these positive benefits are what’s needed to show the world that augmented reality is here to stay. Phones and tablets are now fully equipped to support augmented reality. App stores have created entire categories dedicated to augmented reality. And, maybe most importantly, augmented reality is now a common term for the average person. Pokemon Go made it all possible by tapping into the emotions of the generation that’s glued to their phones and introducing a new game from their childhood, and from there the nostalgia took over, sparking a summer craze.

When Pokémon Go was released in 2016, many of its players were millennials from the original Pokémon generation who had the chance to relive part of their childhood with this new mobile game. That is most likely why the idea of nostalgia was present in many of the analyzed articles. Not all of Pokémon Go triggers old memories – in fact, catching Pokémon inspired players to go out and explore parts of their everyday environments they never noticed before. And for the mega fans, the game inspired Pokémon Go-themed adventures to new travel destinations. Even the travel industry managed to promote sales using the game. Many businesses managed to use the game to their advantage by offering special and sales for game players. The game makers struck deals with businesses by offering to create Poké-stops at their locations in exchange for payment.  In the same way businesses lured in customers, lawmakers were concerned sexual predators could use the game to gain access to children. As quickly as the game was adopted nationwide in the U.S., so was new legislation to protect children from potential harm. Other criticisms of the game emerged, ranging from the typical screen-time concerns to new dangers presented by augmented reality including accidents, collisions, and even morbid discoveries.

Over the course of this first year, news and feature coverage related to the game published in the New York Times provided an interesting perspective and indicator for how society positions augmented reality gaming and places importance on certain places and activities. The game and its sometimes-controversial Poké-stop locations brought issues of respect to the forefront of discussion. Frustrated security guards and some individuals protested the game’s use at memorial sites, and individual Pokémon Go players re-experienced the histories of their hometowns or possibly traveled somewhere new. Though Pokémon Go is not the only augmented reality mobile-based game available for download, its connection to decades of a brand and industry seemed to boost its potential for (and eventual) success in the United States market.

At the time of this writing, Pokémon Go seems to have mostly vanished from the mainstream gaming scene. Though there are still die-hard fans getting in their daily step counts to level up, the trend in the selected coverage shows a clear drop of newsworthiness at the end of summer 2016, as the seasons changed and the game’s younger audience presumably returned to school. Issues of appropriateness with regards to where the game was played at the peak of its popularity in the U.S. show different tendencies in the importance that Americans give (or in some cases, don’t give) to sites deemed by their caretakers as sacred, such as the September 11 memorial in New York City or the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. Excitement about the game’s potential health and tourism benefits soon gave way to concerns about data privacy and safety, as articles about rediscovering hometowns and getting kids off the couch seemed to fade into articles about drivers playing the game and harming pedestrians. Beyond the aforementioned themes (health and exercise, the nostalgia effect, socialization and tourism, backlash and criticism, youth protection, and the business of gaming), the trends in coverage could be interpreted as insight regarding a country’s general sentiment toward augmented reality gaming.

As is true with any study, the current study has a number of limitations. First and foremost, the use of only one media outlet in the analysis automatically creates a bias both in terms of the geographic areas represented in the coverage as well as readers’ expectations for the newspaper to take. Though the New York Times is second in circulation in the United States to only USA Today (Staff, 2017), it is not representative of the entire population of the U.S. Including trade publications such as Electronic Gaming Monthly or even other national or local media outlets would greatly enhance this analysis. In addition, the articles analyzed for this study were taken at face value. Without additional background research on the Pokémon network (television show, other versions of the game, etc.), this study barely scratches the surface of the topic at hand. The fact that the selected articles focused mostly on the United States, and on New York for that matter, also narrows the scope of this analysis. Furthermore, neither of the researchers who conducted this study have an extensive background in game studies, and as such, their lack of pre-existing industry knowledge could have impacted the depth of the current study. Despite these, and other possible, limitations, this study presents a unique perspective on what the future technologies could soon be adopted by the masses, and provides enough background information to at least inspire future research to broaden the scope of this topic.

Similar studies in the future could expand beyond the New York Times coverage to gain a better, more representative overall perception of the game and its influence on society. Studies could also focus on specific categories as discovered in this study rather than a broad overview as gained from this study. In particular, it would be interesting to look into the real world influences augmented reality has on society, including legislation and economic impact. Lastly, given the rapid rise and fall in popularity with the game, researchers could look into questions of sustainability given the short life cycles of such games. While research does not need to be limited to Pokémon Go, the game serves as a starting point for such studies, and this particular case study could serve as a guide for what themes future research might expect to find.


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Robert Aust:

repetition of probably > maybe presumable? But maybe mandatory

Martin Picard:

I see a contradiction here as you say that the VR was a success at the same time than not. If there was certainly hype and excitement at the time, “success” is not the appropriate term here. For exemple, Nintendo’s Virtual Boy was considered a major failure, especially compared to the sales of other home consoles.

Hugo Gelis:

What is Oculus, and how is it relevant to the discussion? This would be nice to explicit for the non-expert reader as well as to future-proof the article : companies and technologies do not last forever and reference to them might become obscure in a few years.

Martin Roth:

I am curious: can you tie your findings to the title of your article and the first part? What do the tendencies in news coverage with regards to ar and vr? Did Pokémon Go really break the barrier?

Martin Roth:

Could you specify your research question more explicitly in the introductory paragraph? For the reader, it is not really clear how your analysis of newspaper articles about Pokémon Go is related to the discourse about virtual reality and its potential. Getting a better sense of your aim would help a lot with the following sections.

Martin Roth:

A short description of the game might be helpful earlier on, as some readers might not be familiar with Pokémon Go.

Martin Roth:

Maybe also connect with a short definition of vr and ar, as you use them in this text.

Martin Roth:

It would be interesting to know the statistics of the articles analysed, for example with regard to the weight of each of the categories you identified, and in the sense the shift of focus over time.

Katlin Hiller:

Can you explain more precisely what you mean with this? I’m not sure what yo umean by “weight” of each of the categories identified.

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Martin Roth:

it would help non-experts to have a short explanation about unfamiliar terminology

Katlin Hiller:

Such as…?

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