”Get Up & Go” is, indeed, a powerful motto that Niantic centers its beliefs upon. Pokemon GO is the name that they chose for their latest viral Pokemon game. Yet, a controversial issue has been on the rise and that’s whether it is morally right to alter your GPS’ functionality in order to play the game without actually walking in the outside world. In general understanding, it is considered cheating because it gives you the advantage that others do not have.
Niantic chose to resonate a powerful message with its motto and anyone who challenges the status quo will be frowned upon. While the line between integrity and dishonesty appears to be crystal clear; we want to challenge the very idea that’s concealed behind a facade. You would most likely agree with the fact that no issue is entirely black or white; as a matter of fact, the internet has introduced a plethora of gray areas that to this day cannot be argued for or against.
Pokemon GO is certainly not your average mobile game and thus, we must take an unusual approach into exploring where the line of integrity is surpassed. For as long as we can remember, the significant majority of games were played at home. This understanding began to change with the rise of mobile games that can actually be played outside one’s house.
However, the idea of augmented reality has brought an unprecedented experience to mobile gamers. Pokemon GO requires that you go out of the safety of your home and venture into an unknown world where you might find a pokemon or a problem. The dangers are inarguable and the facts undeniable. There are many players who do not feel like leaving their house to catch pokemon and yet want to experience the fun that Pokemon GO brings about.
What many of these players do is a technique called GPS spoofing where your character moves on the game’s map while your sitting at home. Niantic has banned many accounts due to this reason. Some had to use more novel approaches such as placing their phones in a radio-frequency shielded box in order to generate a signal that fakes GPS signal. Through the employment of Google Earth, this method allows you to simulate real-life movement.
In the case of Pokemon GO, is it morally wrong to use these techniques while playing the game? According to Niantic, it is and it will get you banned so we advice against it. However, there is a moral case that can stand against such given belief. Consider those that are disabled and cannot move, are they to be labelled as cheaters if they resorted to GPS spoofing?
What about those that are psychologically challenged and suffer from agoraphobia, the fear of leaving one’s home? Take into the equation those that are socially and economically disadvantaged and live in dangerous neighborhoods. Is it moral to brand them negatively for avoiding the risks that their environment contains? Or even the young children that want to play the game from the safety of their homes in order to avoid potential pedophiles in the outside world. The list goes on and on.
We do not support unfair play in mobile games but Pokemon GO brings a whole new case that we must seriously scrutinize. The harm that Pokemon GO has caused is of considerable amount and this should not be ignored. At the moment, an average player has two options: risking himself in the outside world or getting banned. We believe Nintendo and Niantic should consider adding a feature that allows the player to choose whether he wants to go into the outside world or play the game without the need to walk in the real world.
In conclusion, we urge the community and those that invested into the game to take into equation the risks and repercussions that may follow from playing Pokemon GO. It doesn’t have to be this way; there can be a third option which does not have to be a rule breaker. We are not arguing for the removal of the game, we happen to be some of its greatest fans. We merely are offering an alternative that can actually save lives and allow others that are disabled to join in on the Pokemon experience. If you disagree with our case, then try explaining yours to the mother of Jerson Lopez de Leon, a teenager that was shot while playing Pokemon GO when he could have been doing so from the comfort and safety of his house.