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Should We Be Saying No To Pokémon Go?

The creators of Pokémon have done it again. Since being created in 1995 by Satoshi Tajiri, Pokémon has become the second-most successful and lucrative video game-based media franchise in the world, behind Nintendo’s Mario franchise. The franchise began as a video game for the original Game Boy, developed by Game Freak and published by Nintendo. The franchise has since expanded to trading card games, animated television shows and movies, comic books, and toys.

The newest edition to the franchise is Pokémon Go, a free-to-play location-based augmented reality mobile game allowing players to capture, battle, and train their Pokémon, who appear on device screens as though in the real world. It makes use of GPS and the camera of compatible devices. It has quickly become one of the most used smart device apps after launching, surpassing the previous record held by Candy Crush in the United States.

So should we be saying no to downloading Pokémon Go or should we be encouraging others to download it and play? Is it a safe or dangerous game? Some of the praise Pokémon Go has been receiving includes the overall game experience (as it is a new type of gaming), the incentive to get out in the real world and, in my option, one of the most significant benefits, the potential of improving mental and physical health.

ChrisMcClelland

My daughter with her Pokemon.

Now some of the complaints I have heard range from small problems with technical issues that have been experienced such as constant crashes and server issues to larger and more dangerous problems such as serious incidents of accidents and public nuisance. There have been reports of people complaining about exercise-induced pain shortly after the game launched as many people went from little to no exercise to miles of walking and long periods of standing. Some of the more serious incidents that have been reported include people being hit by a vehicle or causing accidents by not paying attention. However, the biggest concern with Pokémon Go is its security issues.

The risks range from reported cases of malware and exploits to concerns about the publisher’s storage and use of players’ personal data, to reported cases of real-world bad guys using the game’s system of visible Pokémon ‘lures’ (which can draw huge crowds) as a honeypot for armed robberies. The malware issue is only a problem for people downloading the game when it has not yet been released in their country and can be easily prevented by downloading the game from reliable sources. For the other issues, there is not much you can do except for knowing the risks before agreeing to an app privacy policy. Pokémon Go is not the only app that asks for access to personal information, but it is important to know what they are asking to use it for.

For myself, I like the idea of a game that promotes users from all around the world to have fun, socialize, and get fit as they play and explore. I’d just like to see some stronger regulations and openness from developers of these apps towards privacy and security.

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