Pokemon Go is doing almost everything people have ever criticised video games for not doing. It is getting people outside, exercising, socialising, and making friends — so what could Pokemon Go possibly do to make us grumble over repercussions?
Trespassing, robberies, traffic incidents, exorbitant in-app purchases — let’s take a closer look at the “real” issues with Pokemon Go.
It’s Going To Make You Trespass
While there’s aren’t to date any reported cases of people trespassing due to playing Pokemon Go, warnings have been put out to let players know it’s not necessary to enter private land or buildings in order to catch that Raichu. Darwin Police station was one of the first to broadcast the advice, and soon the hypotheticals began about the potential for fence jumping to grab an Ivysaur.
How you can fix this: You don’t need to enter the building a Pokestop is at in order to gather your Pokeballs or potions, at all. If the stop is activated (it changes shape when you’re close enough to claim supplies) simply stand within range, and spin that wheel.
If you spot a Gyarados in your next door neighbour’s pool, the very fact that you can see it on your map means you can tap on it from exactly where you are. It’s absolutely not necessary to enter private land to catch ’em all.
TL;DR: Pokemon Go doesn’t make you trespass.
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It’s Going To Cost You Money
There’s a shop within Pokemon Go where you can stock up on Pokeballs, incense to lure Pokemon your way, lucky eggs to double the experience points earned for a period of time, lures to pop into Pokestops to attract Pokemon for any player as well as bag and Pokedex upgrades so you can hold more supplies (and Pokemon). These can be purchased with in-game coins, which you can buy with real life money — in bundles ranging in cost from $1.49 for 100 Pokecoins to $159.99 for 14,500 Pokecoins. That money goes to the developers of the game.
How you can fix this: It’s not in any way necessary to purchase the supplies offered in the shop in order to play the game. All items except the bag and Pokedex upgrades can be found randomly at Pokestops. If you do with the buy some more Pokeballs or stock up on incense, you can earn Pokecoins by battling at gyms. If you are concerned about children making unauthorised purchases, you can disable the card used on Google Play or the App Store.
TL;DR: Pokemon Go doesn’t have to cost you money
It’s Going To Get You Into A Traffic Accident
Pokemon Go is a game that utilises the world we live it. When tracking locations of Pokestops or Pokemon, there’s a map you can refer to that shows your location and the location of what is around you in-game. When catching Pokemon, you can enable augmented reality to see the world around you and the Pokemon’s location within it. There is a potential for those real world locations to be in dangerous places.
How you can fix this: If you wouldn’t do it while you’re texting, don’t do it while you’re playing Pokemon Go. It’s in no way necessary to be constantly looking at your phone to play Pokemon Go, nor do you need to enter any dangerous areas to catch Pokemon. Set up your app with vibration alerts so you can be notified if there is a Pokestop or Pokemon nearby, and simply stand in a safe place to catch your Tangela. If you can see it from where you stand, you can catch it from where you stand. Any one else around has the opportunity to catch the same Pokemon, too — so there’s no need to race.
TL;DR: Pokemon Go doesn’t make you get into traffic incidents.
Kids Are Going To Wander Into Rivers, Lakes, The Sea
As a parent myself, I get this. Hearing about an app that is telling children if they just go down the road they could catch a Voltorb makes you nervous. It’s a normal fear to have.
How you can fix this: Supervision is key. Treat this like any kind of outdoor activity with your children. Don’t leave them alone while they play, and make sure they are secure. One advantage is that there is GPS tracking enabled for the game to work, so if you need to locate your phone (and child) it’s actually easier than if they had just wandered off without it.
TL;DR: Pokemon Go is an outdoor activity. Treat it as such.
It’s Going To Be Used By Criminals To Lure Victims
There’s a Pokestop, there’s a criminal with a lure. The lure is dropped, victims come to catch a Psyduck; sudden robbery. Or worse.
How you can fix this: Exercise the same amount of caution you would in an area if the Pokestop didn’t exist. Late at night, dodgy area, not well lit? Maybe hold off going there. Of course, the onus shouldn’t be on the victim here. Criminal cause crime, not Pokemon Go. It’s worth keeping in mind that due to the abilities of the game there is potential for this kind of criminal activity to be used by law enforcement to catch crimes in the act, with GPS and a literal beacon.
Pokestops are generally placed in very public areas. Landmarks, sculptures — places where there is ordinarily a lot of people. Lures attract even more people. Yes, potential victims. Also witnesses, or even police. I’m no criminal, but it doesn’t seem like a very intelligent way to conduct a heist.
TL;DR: Be careful, but be aware Pokemon Go is a stupid way of committing crimes — and won’t be as prolific as you think.