Pokémon as a franchise has come a long way from the days of 8-bit pixelated screens and colourless characters. Nowadays, Pokémon games are so advanced and varied, one is hard pressed to find someone that hasn’t at least heard of the phenomenon. Even so, Pokémon is still seen as a “nerdy” interest. Something that is played in the comfort of ones own home in a video game. A solitary activity – until now.
Pokémon Go is the latest brainchild of Nintendo. A game that does the unthinkable and forces video game players to leave their houses and interact with the world around them in their quest to find and acquire Pokémon. The game will have Pokémon “appear” on ones phone screen at different locations in such a way that immerses the cartoonish character into the real world environment around it. The player is then encouraged to “catch” the Pokémon with one of their “Pokeballs” to add to their collection. They can level up or “evolve” their Pokémon with different powerups, and take over Pokémon battle buildings that other players have previously held monopoly on.
This game encourages long walks and exploration – a concept that is completely new to the video game world and as a result, comes with brand new things to think about and consider.
Primarily – safety. Children who are playing Pokémon Go might end up in unfamiliar neighbourhoods in order to catch that elusive Pokémon they’ve been looking for. The easiest way to combat this is to simply go adventuring with your child while they “play” this game. It has the potential to be a fantastic bonding experience, as well a quick way to work off supper.
The other main concern with Pokémon Go is the game’s ability to track your location. There are many other popular phone apps that also track location, but none quite as precise as Pokémon Go. The game requires very specific location tracking in order to deliver accurate 3D modeling when players are walking around. So far, the makers of the game have taken steps to limit the information being shared with third parties, but there is a growing interest in this information from law enforcement in particular.
Ultimately, Pokémon Go is a fantastic, free phone app that encourages kids to get off the couch and explore the world around them. It is up to parents to decide and delegate how the app is used and for how long by their children and if it is worth the risk of sharing their geographical locations with potential third parties in the future.