STAY SAFE WHILE PLAYING “POKEMAN GO"
Recently, Park County residents may have noticed people seemingly wandering your neighborhoods or public streets and parks, staring at their smart phones. It may seem like very odd or suspicious behavior, but chances are they're playing a new augmented reality game called Pokémon Go.
Pokémon Go was released worldwide this month. It is a free-to-play location-based augmented reality mobile game whose popularity has skyrocketed. The game makes use of the GPS, internal clock, and camera of compatible devices, most notably smart phones, to allow players to capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on their device screens as though in the real world. The game is free to play, although it supports in-app purchases of additional game play items.
Unlike stationary video games, the idea behind Pokémon Go is to increase physical activity by getting players up out of their seats, walking around in order to capture, expand and cultivate their stock of digitally generated characters.
Playing the game can be extremely enjoyable but safety should also be a major consideration. Here are a few safety tips for parents and players alike when playing this new augmented reality game.
1. Let someone know where you'll be going to catch Pokémon and roughly when you'll return. "Pokémon Go" is also played exclusively on mobile phones, so there's no excuse to neglect checking in if plans change.
2. Don't go out alone. The buddy system is especially important when playing "Pokémon Go." This is always sound advice whenever you're exploring new neighborhoods.
3. Stay alert late at night or don't play at all long after the sun goes down. Some of the game's most notorious incidents have occurred late at night. And there's no real advantage to playing "Pokémon Go" after dark. Also, stay with your group and avoid straggling - it's easy enough to pick off a phone from an unsuspecting victim if he or she is standing idly on the sidewalk, eyes glued to a glowing screen.
4. If you must play at night, stay in well-lit places where people congregate and use common sense when hunting for Pokémon. Pokémon tend to appear in places where people congregate, so the creatures shouldn't materialize in poorly lit or sparsely populated areas. However, the game does have a feature called the “lure module” whereby players can create an area where you are more likely to catch a Pokémon. So don’t wander into unknown, poorly-lit, or sparsely populated areas.
5. Don't bike, skateboard, or drive while playing. Distracted driving, regardless of the vehicle, is a bad idea.
6. Watch where you're going. Although the game uses a virtual map where players can track Pokémon throughout real-world locations, it's not necessary to constantly watch the screen. "Pokémon Go" has a vibration function that makes it, so your smart phone rumbles when a creature appears. If this feature is on, it's easy enough to activate the app, stick the phone in a pocket and wait for the vibration.
7. Don't trespass. The Park County Sheriff's Office warns players against traversing onto private property while playing. The game doesn't expect players to travel into backyards in search of Pokémon. If a creature shows up on the screen, whether the map shows it in the middle of the street or in somebody's backyard, all you need do in order to catch the creature is tap on it.
While playing Pokémon Go is seemingly harmless, players are required to walk, using their smart phones as a map, so there are some common sense precautions to take when playing. Also, there are numerous “hot spots” in and around the Cody and Powell areas that draw players in so they can catch their virtual reality characters, so residents should be aware of the characteristics of those playing the game. However, any activity considered overtly suspicious should always be reported to law enforcement. Always error on the side of caution. You can find a more detailed explanation of the Pokémon Go game on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEb4UFIuXLM