Recently Trend Micro reported that for some users of with iPhones, signing into the game with the most convenient option — using your Google account — allows the gaming company to read your electronic mails. That’s because the Pokemon GO app gets “full access” to your Google account. It’s something most apps don’t dare demand.
How does it work?
“Pokemon Go” is the latest offering from the frenzy-inducing Pokemon franchise. In “Pokemon Go,” the tagline “Gotta catch ’em all” is translated into our physical world using your mobile device and “augmented reality.”
Pokémon Go uses the GPS capabilities of your device in conjunction with Google Maps to “place” creatures in real-world fixes, which you then try to find them using your device as a guide. Once you are in proximity to the “placed” creature, you then use your device’s camera to “view” the beast and try to “capture” it. This works with you using your device as a viewer to “see” the creature near you by facing at an image from the camera with the creature superimposed on it. You then “capture” the creature for points by throwing Poké Balls at it on the device’s screen.
The makers of Pokemon GO — the insanely popular smartphone game — were coerced to make emergency fixes to the game because the app gave the company an unprecedented level of access into the players’ personal lives.
The risks this augmented reality game exposes are physical risks to actual life and tree branch. Just days after its release, Pokémon Go’s real-world gameplay has been connected to armed robberies as criminals have used the game to locate and lure intended targets. There are reports of trespassing as enthusiastic players try to “find” and “capture” creatures on others’ property. In the United States, gamers trespassing on others’ property face a genuine threat of physical harm from property owners who may use force to protect their property. And of course, there’s the risk of injury or death of not paying attention to your surroundings as you run the game.
This last risk is obvious and easy to overlook in its obviousness. The game is fun and, like any video game, it brings your full attention immediately to the exclusion of all else. And the gameplay demands and requires your full attention. Yes, thither is a warning each time you start the game to be sure to pay attention, but that warning is quickly overlooked.
This isn’t to say people shouldn’t play the game. But people need to realize this type of game is new and introduces whole new categories of risks.