Stop for a minute before catching them all

First of all, I loved playing Pokémon on the Gameboy back in the 90s and of course watching the anime series once it hit the small screen. Imagine my delight when I learned about Pokémon GO thru my social media news feeds just last week. My Facebook was flooded with posts of screenshots of the game being played by my friends, thus making me Google it right away.

So, what's the big deal about this augmented reality game? You see, Pokémon GO is essentially every Pokémon fan’s fantasy. I was actually a huge fan of Ash Ketchum and Pikachu together with Misty and Brock. I was totally hooked on the game, I still remember how I felt when I caught a Mewtwo for the first time. I was on cloud nine! With Pokémon GO you can become an actual Pokémon trainer who gets to travel around, capturing Pokémon here and there, evolve them, and then battle them at your local Gym. For anyone who grew up playing and watching the series like me, Pokémon GO is basically a dream come true. Yes, we finally get to be Ash! The only problem is, now that the game has launched on both Android and iOS platforms, we can safely say that this game isn't all that dreamy.

So how does Pokémon GO work?

    • You literally walk around looking for Pokémon to catch, visit local landmarks, called Pokéstops where you can gather/purchase supplies like Pokeballs once you run out.
    • You then throw Pokéballs at online "pocket monsters", or Pokémon, to capture them.
    • Battles take place in Gyms for supremacy.

After its official release in the US, Australia and New Zealand, the game became the top grossing app in the iPhone store on its first week. It's going viral, and gamers are going nuts. But, before you install the game on your own mobile device, here are some things you should stop to consider before downloading it:

1. Eats The Life Out Of Your Phone's Battery

All of the biggest battery-draining felons of mobile devices are in action when you play Pokémon GO. You’ll be using your screen, your camera and of course the ever hungry built-in GPS to find the Pokémon scattered all over in the first place. Trust this blend of three to give you the perfect recipe for a dead phone.

When you go out searching for Pokémon, make sure to bring a fully-charged phone with you and a ton of power banks and maybe get one of those extended battery cases too.

2. Safety Concerns

I wasn't surprised when I read the first news report of a traffic collision caused by Pokémon GO here in the metro. People are hunting for Pokémon while walking around, obviously, but seem to also be playing while riding their skateboards, bicycles, or even driving their cars. People are also walking into peoples’ yards, which could easily lead to misunderstandings. Police stations are Gyms, and even the White House, in the US. I wonder if the Malacanang is one as well? I guess that's enough for us to say that this type of game/real world hybrid could lead to some safety issues.

There are already reports from players getting into minor accidents in a variety of ways as they wander the real world with their eyes glued to their smartphone screens in search of adorable digital monsters. As if this generation couldn't get anymore addicted to their phones, now it's even worse with this game.

Mike Schultz cut his hand on the pavement after hitting a crack falling off his skateboard, yes, while playing the game.

(Photo credits to the owner)

"I just wanted to be able to stop quickly if there were any Pokemons nearby to catch," he said.

Lindsay Plunkett, a 23-year-old waitress from North Carolina, bruised her shin after tripping over a concrete block.

(Photo credits to the owner)

Kyrie Tompkins, a 22-year-old freelance web designer, fell on the pavement and twisted her ankle while wandering in Waterville, Maine looking for Pokémon to catch.

"It vibrated to let me know there was something nearby and I looked up and just fell in a hole," she said.

Her parents had to drive her and her fiancé home. Enough said.

3. Bugs, Bugs, Oh And Did I Say Bugs?

As with every new game or app, all sorts of bugs and issues with the game have surfaced right after its release. There are some reports of opening the game just to find out that all their progress has been wiped and ongoing issues with Pokémon GO servers going down as well.

Hopefully these bugs get patched up quickly, but in its current state Pokémon GO may or may not run without issues. To the gamers, remember, patience is a virtue.

4. Identity Theft Risks

There are a lot of ways, for Android users, to sideload Pokémon GO onto your mobile device, so that they can play it from any country. The problem? Many of these sideloading quick fixes are full of malware, some can even let hackers gain full remote access of your devices and extract all information inside it.

Hackers are after any angle that paves their way into gaining a foothold on our devices. A popular game or app that is still not available in some countries or areas is a sure way of crafting a malware delivery strategy. Sadly, Filipinos have proven time and time again that they’ll click and try anything without a second thought, just to get instant access to a new, even prohibited or early-release app. Cyber criminals on the other hand, have proven time and time again that they’ll find a way to infect that software… By installing software from third-party markets and unknown sources we are basically increasing our risk of malware. Period.

5. Google Account Full Access

It was reported that Pokémon Go gets full access to your Gmail, Docs and Google account once installed on your device, it shouldn't — but it does!

The game as expected would require a lot of permissions, because in order for you to play, it needs to get your location, access the camera and motion sensors, read and write to your SD card, and charge you money for In App purchases. But what's up with full access to your Google Account? The game would then be able to see and modify nearly all information in your Google Account except change your password, delete your account, or pay with Google Wallet on your behalf. But still, there is no obvious reason as to why this access should be requested in the first place, and there’s no way to change it (revoking privileges will only result in crashing the game or signing you out). The most troubling part in my opinion is that the permission is both asked for and given without notifying the user. Risky, with the capital R.

6. The Micro-Transactions

I am not a fan of In-App Purchases when it comes to mobile games and apps. But it can't be helped since this is how companies monetize “free” content; on the other hand, micro-transactions such as these can drastically change the whole gaming experience.

7. Don't Expect The Actual Gameplay

For hardcore Pokémon gamers, the actual game-play itself will leave them disappointed. Ultimately, Pokémon GO can't be considered a “true” Pokémon game. From the battles to the stats, how to level up, evolve, the whole game experience is a stripped down version of the one we're familiar with in the handheld gaming consoles way back. Sorry folks, don't expect an in-depth battle system on this one,... yet. 

It's safe to say that Pokémon GO won't be gracing any of the mobile devices in our home. Even without the issues we have just tackled, I still don't see myself immersing myself in this game for fairly practical reasons. First, I have a family with four kids to take care of, and second, it won't stretch my peso! Haha. Take that, Nintendo!

For the die-hard Pokémon gamers out there, stay safe and enjoy the game! Cheers!


Post a Comment

Article published on July 13, 2016

No comments:

Post a Comment