Ditto the Monster looks at the world of family friendly online games from a Fabricated American perspective

Playing Safe with Pokemon GO!

Since pretty much everyone in the world is playing the phenomenon known as Pokémon GO now – including Ditto – and if you were not aware, the game involves walking around in the real world, exploring areas and looking for Pokémon to capture. Since this is a LOT different than the typical games you play on your computer, Ditto wanted to talk a little bit about safety while playing this new game – it’s a REALLY fun game, but there are definitely more safety concerns around it than your typical MMO…

First, and the game tells you this pretty much every time you start it – always be aware of your surroundings!  Pay attention to where you are walking and what is going on around you, and don’t walk around just staring down at your phone.  Ditto doesn’t even look at his phone while he’s playing, unless he gets an alert that there is a Pokémon or Pokestop in his vicinity – the game will vibrate and give an audio alert when either of these things happen, so you won’t miss them even if you’re looking around you and not staring at your phone.  If you are tracking an elusive Pokémon using the ‘footprints’ count in the nearby Pokémon system, just look every minute or so – the footprints count doesn’t change that rapidly, so you really don’t need to stare at it constantly to track the Pokémon.

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Next – if a Pokémon appears in a dangerous place, the capture range is really quite big, so you don’t have to stay in that dangerous place to capture the Pokémon.  Here is an example that I encountered today (and was one of the inspirations for this post) – I was playing, crossing the street (safely in the crosswalk and with proper supervision) towards a pokestop, when a Lapras appeared right in the middle of literally the busiest intersection in my neighborhood.  This was a VERY unsafe place for a Pokémon, but that’s a VERY rare Pokémon – I had never even seen one in the wild, and I definitely wanted to capture it!  I did not do anything until I made it safely to the sidewalk, and once safe on the sidewalk and totally out of danger I was able to engage with the Lapras and, after quite a few Pokeballs, capture it.  It seems like common sense, but I know some Pokémon trainers get very excited when finding something like a Lapras, and might engage in the capture right in the middle of the intersection – don’t do that!!   You won’t miss your Pokémon if you wait to get to a safe spot, and even if you do, so what?  No digital pocket monster is worth you or someone else is getting hurt.

Another important safety tip – if you’re going to a place you’re unfamiliar with, try to go with a group and make sure your parents / family know where you are going, especially at night.  Unfortunately, with all the fun and positive things going on with Pokémon GO, there are also some bad people out there who have been doing things like staking out remote gyms and Pokestops, especially at night, and then robbing people who showed up to activate those game spots – some have even dropped lures at the pokestops to entice more players to venture to them.  I know these are rare occurrences, but it makes sense to be aware of the potential dangers and make sure you’re not going to a remote pokestop or gym all by yourself at night.

You should also pay attention to your phone battery!  Pokémon GO is known to drain batteries faster than Ditto eats Chinese food, so pay attention to your phone battery and, if you’re out and exploring, try to keep enough battery left to make an emergency call or text, just in case.  There’s nothing worse than realizing you need some kind of help out in the field and see your phone shut down just as you go to make a call.

For this one, I really shouldn’t have to say it, and I don’t even know how many of Ditto’s readers can drive, but I’m just going to say it because CLEARLY some people have not gotten the message…  DO NOT POKEMON AND DRIVE!!!  It sounds like a silly thing to have to say, but I’ve read so many stories of people getting into accidents or driving off the road because they were trying to catch Pokémon…  I am just a furry orange monster, but seriously, even I know not to ever do something like this…  Trying to play Pokémon white driving a car just defies logic, doesn’t it?

Finally – don’t get lost!  I am totally not saying this from personal experience, no matter what Miss Narrator might say, but some people who are venturing into new areas to play Pokémon GO might be so engrossed in the game that they lose track of where they’ve been walking and where they end up, and are unsure how to get back to familiar territory.  Add to this the tendency of Pokémon GO to drain phone batteries like Ditto eats pies, as I mention above, and you could find yourself in the middle of an unfamiliar area, unsure of where you are and with no phone or GPS to help you get back or call for help.

This might seem silly too, but just because you are playing a video game doesn’t mean the rules of the outdoors do not apply!  Some people playing this game are very active and familiar with the outdoors, but a lot of people are saying that this game is getting them outside and exploring their areas more than they have ever done before, which is great, but make sure you’re taking the proper precautions.  Remember things like sunscreen and bug spray where appropriate, drink plenty of fluids to keep hydrated on hot sunny days, pay attention to weather reports since summer storms can come in fast and scary, and pay attention to your body – if your muscles are aching or you’re feeling weak or dizzy, don’t ignore it to capture one more Drowzee – seek shade, get plenty of fluids, and rest.

Pokémon GO is a fun, exciting new game experience that is really changing people’s lives, and Ditto is very excited to play – but like I said earlier, this is a pretty new technology and, as a game that requires you to go out and explore your world, there are a few extra things to think about when it comes to safety.  Have fun with the game, engage with your friends and neighbors, and definitely ‘Catch em all’…. but as always, play safe!!!

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