So unless you have been living under a rock… that is in the middle of space…of a different universe… while also being dead, I’m sure you have heard of the phenomenon Pokémon Go. I’m not planning to Raichu guys an explanation of the game mechanics, but the general premise of the game is a scavenger hunt, with users travelling around the city/country/globe searching for new Pokémon and items.
Image: ‘Pokemon’ by Seika, CC (By 2.0)
One of the most exciting parts of the application is its Augmented reality (AR). This creates the appearance of Pokémon in the real world and helps to make the dreams of millions (having Pokémon in real life) not a Farfetch’d reality. It also requires your location settings to track your movements and know when to spawn the Pokémon onto your device. Research done by Roesner and colleagues highlighted how AR technologies create a greater risk for breaches of privacy and surveillance (2014). Unlike many other applications, AR requires constant access to functions of a device such as camera, microphone, location or password. Because of the duration of access the applications require, Pokémon Go could leave its users open to tracking among other risks while using the game.
Geolocation services are of vital importance in Pokémon Go. Without them, the can cannot track your location and spawn wild creatures to specific areas. Relatively harmless you may think, as Google Maps have similar tracking for when we try to find a location. But have you made any serious thought into what this information can be used for? A journal by Jia and colleagues demonstrated how Geolocation technologies could be attacked by outside parties. These attacks can give access to the victim’s country, city, town, all while knowing the specific time you were at these locations to (2015). So playing this can game can allow for anyone to know my location??? Shut your Meowth!!
The sad thing is that the every day user has also found ways to affect our privacy while using the game. Armed assailants used the game to lure victims to specific areas, for the intention of robbing them (Yuhas 2016). While this isn’t the typical form of privacy risks, you would associate with a mobile game, it should still be in the forefront of your mind, as you should never take a Chansey when it comes to your life. The nature of the game places its users in an outdoor environment and you need to be aware of your surroundings.
While these technologies are foreign and new concepts to many individuals, as with all other aspects of our life and our devices, we need to be wary of the risks and harms they could cause us. If Exeggcute(d) correctly, the possibilities remain endless however, and Pokémon Go could be the pioneering application that demonstrates to the world how devices will be used in the future. Fombona and colleagues discovered the educational benefits that VR and Geolocation provide by creating an innovative learning environment for uses (2015).
So I don’t want to be all Gloom(y) about Pokemon Go and the technology it uses. There are many benefits and enjoyable experiences that would cease to exist without the game. With most new technology, there will always be issues and teething problems… which I wanted to share to the reader. If using the game I just want all users to be aware of the potential risks that they could incur.
Anyways I got to go, I see a Dragonite on my nearby list and need to find it ASAP!!
Fombona, J, Coto, V & Caldevilla, D 2015, ‘Mobile augmented reality interaction: an approach to the phenomenon’, Informação & Sociedade: Estudos, vol. 25, no. 3, pp.117-129, ProQuest
Jia, Y, Dong, X, Liang, Z & Saxena, P 2015, ‘I Know Where You’ve Been: Geo-Inference Attacks via the Browser Cache’, IEEE Internet Computing, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 44-53, doi: 10.1109/MIC.2014.103
Kumar, M 2016, 6 Important Things You Should Know Before Playing Pokemon Go, The Hacker News, retrieved 28 August 2016, http://thehackernews.com/2016/07/pokemon-go-privacy-hacks.html
Roesner, F, Kohno, T & Molnar, D 2014, ‘Security and privacy for augmented reality systems’, Communications of the ACM, vol. 57, no. 4, pp. 88-96, Academic OneFile
Yuhas, A 2016, Pokémon Go: armed robbers use mobile game to lure players into trap, The Guardian, retrieved 27 August 2016, <https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jul/10/pokemon-go-armed-robbers-dead-body>
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