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Pokemon Go Opportunities and Issues

July 25, 2016

Pokemon Go can help drive traffic to physical sites. But please know it has safety problems and it excludes many people with disabilities.

The augmented reality gaming app, Pokemon Go, is a huge phenomenon that many of our incoming and returning students are already using. While we in ITSS would like to help our campus partners find fun and creative ways to leverage this, we also know there are issues around it (e.g. accessibility, physical safety, etc.). Please keep the following issues in mind if you decide to make this application part of your activities and please feel free to consult with ITSS if you have more specific questions, ideas, or concerns.

How Pokemon Go Can be Used

The most obvious use is to leverage traffic for physical sites that are part of the game world (e.g. Tweed Museum is a "PokeGym" and could be used to promote student traffic that would not otherwise come into that space). For more information consult Introduction to Pokemon Go.

Data security issues with Pokemon Go have been largely addressed and now the App has a security profile similar to many other popular apps, so this is not a high concern for ITSS. We do suggest that you not make it mandatory for students to load this software on their device but have no concerns about students using the application on campus and/or with their Google Apps account.

Physical Security Statement

Recent issues reported across the country have included players crashing into a parked police car, wandering off a cliff, and getting hit by a car while crossing a highway at rush hour while playing the game. In addition to injuries, law enforcement agencies have reported robberies where suspects have set up fake 'Poke-spots' or targeted players or snatched the victim's phone while the players were engrossed in the game and unaware they were being targeted.

Safety Tips

  • Know your surroundings and pay attention to where you are going/who is around you. If you get the sense you are being followed, feel uncomfortable or unsafe in any way, head to a lighted area with people around.
  • Watch where you are going, please don't look down at your phone while crossing streets, getting off buses, or even while walking. Obey traffic laws, please.
  • Do not run into trees, meters, and things that are attached to the sidewalk; they hurt.
  • Do not drive, ride your bike, skateboard, rollerblade, etc. while playing.
  • Do not go onto private property, dark alleys, or areas that you usually would not go if you weren't playing the game. A fence still means "Keep Out" even if you think a Pokémon is hiding behind it.

Accessibility Statement

Pokémon Go, excludes people with disabilities to a significant degree especially those with motor and visual disabilities. Participation may often be difficult or impossible.

Accessibility Barriers

  • The game relies on users walking, physically moving over obstacles, and holding their phone while utilizing hand-eye coordination. This creates barriers for people who are in wheelchairs or have physical disabilities.
  • The game may be impossible to play for people who do not have high dexterity or precision in movement.
  • The game relies on visual cues in order to spot the Pokémon. This creates barriers for people who have visual disabilities.
  • The game has no voice-enabled controls that would help players with a variety of disabilities.

Accessibility Related Best Practices

  • Consider the accessibility barriers of Pokémon Go and which types of disabilities may be affected.
  • Consider avoiding the use of Pokémon Go to provide access to educational material, if Pokémon is the only means of access.
  • Do not use Pokémon Go until it is made inclusive to all.