Published: Fresh U. July 10, 2016. Viewable here.
Pokémon Go, a new app released July 6, blends the lines between the real world and the virtual world of catching and training Pokémon. Using the app and camera devices on their phones, users can catch over a hundred different types of Pokémon in real world settings. In order to find different Pokémon, fanatics alike travel to places such as parks in efforts to find new species – for example, some water-type species only appear near bodies of water, thus prompting users to venture out to find them.
The new app, an adventure unto itself, has proven to be not all fun and games for some.
In Riverton, Wyoming, Shayla Wiggins was using the app when she stumbled across a floating dead body in the Wind River, according to County 10 news.
“I was trying to get a Pokémon from a natural water resource,” the 19-year-old told County 10 news. “I was walking towards the bridge along the shore when I saw something in the water. I had to take a second look and I realized it was a body.”
The Pokémon Go app cautions users to stay conscious of their surroundings, but since the purpose of the game is to stare into your phone awaiting Pokémon to appear, it is easy to become entranced. The Fremont County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death, but believes the death to be a drowning accident, although the water in the Wind River is only three feet deep.
Other problems with the app itself arose after millions of users attempted to download the app in a small window of time. These issues include a quick depletion of battery life, errors with servers, messages about the app not being available in certain countries and failures to recognize login usernames. Pokémon Go has also begun crashing because of a major system overload.
Aside from the app’s multitude of errors, researchers at Proofpoint have discovered a fake Android version of the game installed by “sideloading” the game through a backdoor. Downloading this unverified app increases the chances of accidentally downloading a virus.
Users can separate the real app from the potentially-harmful app by accessing their Settings and scrolling through the Permissions stated for the Pokémon Go app. If, under Permissions, the app lists that it is allowed to “read your Web bookmarks and history” or “view Wi-Fi connections” it is not the verified Pokémon Go application.
Seemingly harmless, the app is carelessly enjoyed by most. Omari Akil, however, wrote a warning for black men using the app. Akil, an editor of Autora Ink and black man himself cautioned black males using the app to watch out for their lives in this article written for Medium.
Akil writes that while playing the game, being a Pokémon fan himself, he was “distracted from the game by thoughts of the countless Black Men who have had the police called on them because they looked ‘suspicious’ (and wondered) what a second amendment exercising individual might do if I walked past their window a 3rd or 4th time in search of a Jigglypuff.”
In the event that police show up in response to a suspicious-looking black man, Akil referenced statistics – that he is more likely to be approached by law enforcement aggressively even when no laws have been broken, that he is more likely to be shot reaching for his identification and that if he is shot multiple times he will likely be dead before medical emergency assistance arrives, because of his skin color.
In regards to system errors, the Pokémon corporation issued this response: “The enthusiastic response to the launch of Pokémon GO has been tremendous and inspiring. We’re aware of the server issues that our players have been experiencing and are working around the clock to resolve them as soon as possible.”
For users nationwide, the Pokémon Go app can be enjoyed – if and when it works like it’s supposed to – with safety and caution.