2.1. Uses and Gratifications Theory
The Uses and Gratifications (U&G) Theory, which originated in [30
], aimed to detect the motivational needs of the audience of a radio quiz programme. Thereafter, it has been widely used in research. Recent studies [31
] legitimate the U&G approach as one of the most relevant communication theories for explaining the use of media based on the virtual environment.
The U&G approach originally focused on identifying why people choose one communication medium over another [35
]. The theory has been used to explore a wide range of topics relating to recent ICT, such as virtual worlds [41
], online social networking [44
], web-based information services [45
] and Internet news browsing [46
]. However, there are few investigations in the field of augmented reality mobile games that apply the U&G theory [47
U&G principles establish that people usually have a wide range of needs that can be gratified when they consume media [48
]. For that reason, U&G Theory tries to explain the social and psychological reasons why people are motivated to use media to fulfil their needs [50
]. In fact, U&G has the potential to examine personal motivations and persistent use of an augmented reality mobile game, specifically Pokémon Go.
Prior research usually classifies gratifications into three categories [43
]: (1) hedonic, (2) utilitarian, and (3) social. This last one is linked with the attainment of status. Among these three groups, perhaps the hedonic variables have received most attention in studies that try to analyse the motivations of those using ICT for leisure and voluntary activities. In this sense, the U&G approach can be applied to online games as they are a relevant part of the Internet and the media [53
2.2. Research Model
The study reported in [53
] was identified as one of the few works that apply the U&G theory in an online game environment. Based on this work, a research model composed of eight constructs related to hedonic, social and utilitarian gratifications was defined (Figure 2
). First, hedonic gratification is captured by: (1) enjoyment (ENJ), (2) fantasy (FAN) and (3) escapism (ESC). Second, it is assumed that (4) social interaction (SINT) and (5) social presence (SPRE) describe social gratification. Finally, (6) achievement (ACH) and (7) self-presentation (SELFP) are proposed as capturing utilitarian gratification. All these constructs in turn influence (8) the continuance intention (CI) to use the Pokémon Go game.
Considering this proposal, the present study contributes to an increase the points of view that identify the motivations of the users of Pokémon Go. In fact, the model provides a different perspective when compared with similar studies. For example, [21
] analysed the motivations of those continuing to use Pokémon Go, applying the Motives for Online Gaming Questionnaire. In addition, [4
] analysed the continued use of Pokémon Go by adopting the Theory of U&G, although the applied model focused on risks and social norms. Finally, [8
] analysed the use of Pokémon Go as a tool that drives cognitive performance and emotional intelligence.
In a general way, online games are one type of hedonic ICT [23
]. Users can alleviate boredom by playing games linked with mobile phones [60
]. In this way, enjoyment is considered as a hedonic gratification [61
], inasmuch as it is related to activities which are interesting or enjoyable [62
]. Indeed, Prior ICT studies identify enjoyment as the main hedonic motivation [63
]. In addition, [64
] shows that continuance intention is predicted by enjoyment [64
]. Based on the above reasoning, enjoyment should exert an influence on continuance intention, and the following hypothesis is posited:
Hypothesis 1 (H1).
Enjoyment impacts positively on continuance intention to play the Pokémon Go game.
Moreover, the ICT literature identifies fantasy as one of the dominant dimensions of video game use [68
] and it has been shown to be a strong predictor in determining user behaviour for online communities and gamers using the U&G approach [43
]. According to [72
] (p. 4), fantasy “refers to themes that engage users in a creative, imaginative, or even fantasized world of play”. Thus, fantasy could be seen in online games as allowing players to do things that they would not normally be able to do in real life [47
], such as building cities or in this case, choosing an avatar with which to catch Pokémon. Hence, in this study, it is expected that fantasy obtained when playing Pokémon Go will increase the continuance intention to play it. Thereby, a hypothesis was established:
Hypothesis 2 (H2).
Fantasy impacts positively on continuance intention to play the Pokémon Go game.
Escapism is another hedonic dimension related to the Internet [40
] and mobile communications [74
]. Augmented reality mobile games allow players to escape by removing themselves from the worries of everyday life [75
]. In addition, many authors identified escapism gratification as one of the most consistent predictors of consumption behaviour [78
]. Therefore, a hypothesis was suggested:
Hypothesis 3 (H3).
Escapism impacts positively on continuance intention to play the Pokémon Go game.
Social interaction is a classical gratification in U&G studies [84
]. This dimension includes meeting people with similar interests or keeping up with what is going on [86
]. In particular, social interaction helps to sustain social gratification for players and relationships with friends [63
]. When people socialize, they expect to increase their emotional satisfaction.
Therefore, in U&G studies [53
], social interactions have long been considered a meaningful gratification associated with playing online games. Applying this to the present research, we expected that the social interaction gratification from playing Pokémon Go would an effect on continuance intention to keep playing the game. Thereby this hypothesis was defined:
Hypothesis 4 (H4).
Social interaction impacts positively on continuance intention to play the Pokémon Go game.
Social media is a practical context for examining social presence in online games. In a general way, users employ social media to share their experiences [90
]. In this manner, social presence could show the need of users to interact with their peers using augmented reality mobile games [42
In the case of Pókemon Go, players are prompted to be part of Team Instinct (Yellow), Team Mystic (Blue) or Team Valor (Red). Players usually select the same team as their friends in order to reach some common goals. In this sense, social presence could be a dimension associated with continuance intention. Thus, the following hypothesis is proposed:
Hypothesis 5 (H5).
Social presence impacts positively on continuance intention to play Pokémon Go.
Achievement has been widely studied in U&G [43
]. It was defined by [91
] as the desire to gain advancement (power, progress, etc.) and to compete with others, and an interest in analysing the rules and the system. With reference to online games, it is seen as the “desire to gain power, to gather virtual game objects and valuable performance points, to compete with others and to generate a particular image of player-self” [53
] (p. 263).
The authors of [92
] stated that factors such as optimal experiences, personal interactions or pleasant social interactions determine the continuous use of online games. Moreover, improving status can be considered relevant by users worried about developing their cyber identity or image [42
]. Applying this to Pokémon Go, players will be keen to gain prestige and a high trainer level. Based on this, it is expected that the relationship between achievement and continuance intention should be positively strong. The following hypothesis is suggested:
Hypothesis 6 (H6).
Achievement impacts positively on continuance intention to play the Pokémon Go game.
Finally, self-presentation has been identified as an important aspect of relational development in interpersonal interactions [93
]. Through self-presentation, players project an image of self in order to exert an influence on the perception and treatment of other online players [53
], besides obtaining rewards and self-fulfilment [94
]. Further, the information received from self-presentation is usually used by players to make comparisons with others in order to judge their own abilities [95
Pokémon Go allows players to select their avatars and customise them with clothes and accessories to exhibit the image that players desire. In this manner, Pokémon Go has a huge range of styles and clothing options. Moreover, the use of an avatar maintains users’ privacy and gives them expressive freedom to an otherwise anonymous and static online presence [63
]. Consequently, the following hypothesis is proposed:
Hypothesis 7 (H7).
Self-presentation impacts positively on continuance intention to play the Pokémon Go game.