The Allure of Addiction: How Our Strengths Come Into Play

The Allure of Addiction: How Our Strengths Come Into Play

It was a little past 1 a.m., and I’d been out walking around my neighbourhood for 3 hours. I’d clocked over 20,000 steps on my Fitbit, and ventured into more dark alleys, desolate parking lots, and previously unexplored territories than I cared to count.

In the next 48 hours, I travelled to the far corners of our tiny little red-dot island in search of rarer, shinier, and stronger catches. While taking public transport, I’d refresh my app screen every few metres the bus travelled to see if any new landmarks or pixelated creatures would pop up so I could snag a few rewards.

I wasn’t the only one. Judging by the number of people I saw wandering around with their eyes glued to their phones – and the excited chatter from young adults camping out in front of houses, bus stops, and pavilions – the fever had gripped them just as much as it had gripped me.

Not long after, the police department started issuing reports of people getting killed in car accidents because they were too absorbed in their phones to pay attention to traffic as they crossed the roads. The landlords of my office building also started locking the gates at night because they’d had enough of people trespassing onto the grounds – all in the name of the fever.

What fever? Pokémon fever, of course.

Though the hype has died down somewhat since its launch over eight months ago, Pokémon Go still has a significant following of avid Pokémon hunters, ranging in ages from primary schoolers all the way to 67-year-old retirees.

Obviously, the appeal of the pocket-monster catching simulation transcends generational boundary lines. Yet these innate drivers aren’t a new phenomenon, as decades of video-, computer-, and phone-gaming addiction problems can attest.

 A friend of mine playing with the VR option in the Pokémon Go app.
A friend of mine playing with the VR option in the Pokémon Go app.

Could our StrengthsFinder talent themes explain any of the underlying motivations behind certain gaming addictions?

Here’s my theory. (Fair warning: This is a tongue-in-cheek article, so take my theories with a grain of salt!)

How StrengthsFinder Connects with Pokémon Fever

A talent, if we were to pin a definition to it, is a naturally recurring pattern of thought, feeling, and behavior that can be productively applied.

But these naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior stem from certain needs and motivators. Just as our hunger would drive us to search for food, these needs drive us toward certain behaviors.

When I was getting sucked into the vortex of phone-gaming addiction, I realized that my behavior was actually fueled by a certain set of talent themes:

  • For instance, it was my brother who first introduced me to the game, so my Relator talent theme wanted to play it as a way of connecting with my brother. Quite a few of my friends were also playing the game, so it also became a communal event to go out for walks and catch Pokémon together.

  • But it was also my Achiever theme: every Pokémon I caught was like a mission accomplished. The more I caught, the more I was driven to catch.

  • My Learner theme also came into play. As a Learner, I love seeing progression or growth, so for every level that my Pokémon gained, I felt that thrill of excitement. My Input theme also drove me to collect more information so that I could find better, more efficient ways of catching Pokémon and conquer gyms.

  • Finally, there was my Responsibility theme, which compels me to see things through to completion. I really had to catch ‘em all.

I interviewed a few of the friends who had been caught up in the Pokémon fever and yielded similar insights:

  • One friend with Individualization loved collecting the different kinds of Pokémon. The quirkier, the better.

  • The same friend also had Developer, so she enjoyed nurturing each of her Pokémon and seeing them grow bit by bit.

  • Another friend with Maximizer and Competition liked collecting the strongest Pokémon and challenging all the gyms he came across.

  • And another friend with Responsibility downloaded the game for her son’s sake: all his friends at school were playing it, and she took it upon herself to make sure that he didn’t feel left out.

  • Then of course there were the more short-lived Ideation-fueled addictions, who downloaded the app and played the game simply because it was a new fad (or a new idea).

What about you? Did you find that any of your talent themes were contributing to the Pokémon fever (or any gaming addiction)? Drop me a comment below and let me know your thoughts!

By the way, in case you’re wondering: I deleted the app from my phone after the third day. As much as my Responsibility, Learner, and Achiever themes were piqued, my Belief theme compels me to align every part of my life with my vision and mission, so I couldn’t justify forsaking quality time with friends and not devoting 100% of my attention at the office to my work. So if you (or others you know) are caught up in the Pokémon fever and trying to get out – there’s hope!


Written by Tan Meiling

Responsibility • Learner • Relator • Belief • Harmony

Meiling is a writer, editor, and Gallup-Certified StrengthsFinder Coach based in Singapore. As a StrengthsFinder® Coach, she is passionate about helping people discover their innate potential and celebrating who they are. She enjoys reading, learning, and sharing her knowledge through writing articles. Meiling is also actively giving StrengthsFinder coaching to individuals and facilitating workshops in Singapore.



About Meiling | Meiling is a freelance writer, editor, and Gallup-Certified StrengthsFinder® Coach based in Singapore.

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