21 April 2019
Office workers play Pokémon GO on their smartphones in front of the HSBC building in Central during lunch break. Photo: Bloomberg
Office workers play Pokémon GO on their smartphones in front of the HSBC building in Central during lunch break. Photo: Bloomberg

How to play Pokémon GO without regrets: some dos and don’ts

We’d like to give some friendly reminders to players of Pokémon GO, the wildly popular augmented reality smartphone game that made its debut in Hong Kong on Monday.

First, the game can cause real-life trouble between couples.

Though players cannot locate each other on the map, the game records a player’s daily routine as long as the alert is turned on, such as when and where they capture Pokémon or get energy balls.

An American player named Evan Scribner found himself in a fix after his girlfriend browsed the user log and found that he had captured a Pokémon creature at his ex-girlfriend’s house in Brooklyn.

We could only surmise what happened next.

Second, employers and human resources staff can always find out who are playing games during work hours.

It’s been reported that some human resources staff have established a PokéStop near the office and set up an incense – a move to attract Pokémon for easy capture – which works equally well to attract employees who are playing the game.

Third, the game might pose risk for confidential business information if the game is played in business premises.

For example, gamers might use the name of their company to set up a PokéStop for convenience.

If the station is named after a certain technology firm, and is frequently visited by bankers and lawyers at the same time, it might give away an indication that an M&A deal could be going on.

Gamers who work for the Securities and Futures Commission, Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Independent Commission Against Corruption and Confederation of Insurance Brokers should be careful about exposing their identities.

Fourth, some bosses may be tolerant of staff who play Pokémon GO, but they might ask employees how to use it to grow the business or boost revenue.

Therefore, players should understand terms like VR (virtual reality), AR (augmented reality) and MR (mixed reality) along with the business applications of various technologies in different markets.

Fifth, gamers will naturally find that their handsets run out of power very quickly, since the GPS function would consume 50 percent more power.

In that case, players better use two separate mobiles, one for work and another for playing the game, and bring along a power bank as well.

Sixth, it remains unclear when Pokémon GO will be launched on the mainland, given that the game relies on Google’s mapping system, but the service has been blocked in China since 2010.

In that case, those who make frequent business trips to the mainland might find themselves lagging far behind other players when they return to Hong Kong.

Last but not least, Pokémon GO is available for download for free.

Both Nintendo and creator company Niantic have said the bulk of revenue will be generated through offline-to-online promotions.

For example, over 3,000 McDonald’s restaurants in Japan have signed up to become “Gyms” – a battleground for Pokémon trainers to interact – in order to attract more players to visit their restaurants.

Players are required to agree to a long list of privacy terms when installing the game.

For example, players’ identity, email address, social media accounts, IP, mobile system and locations are allowed to be accessed, as well as shared with a third party.

Most people pay little heed to these terms as they are so eager to start playing the game.

It’s up to you. Just don’t blame anyone if you start receiving tons of advertisements every day.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 26.

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist

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