As Japan crawls up the walls over rumours and counter rumours about the possible release of Pokémon Go, the ever safety-conscious overlords of the state have themselves, it seems, been crawling up the walls over the prospect of Pokémon-hunting based accidents.
It should come as no surprise really then that a government agency yesterday published a PDF Pokémon Go safety guide.
The guide has been put together by NISC, an acronym that looks like it would send Edward Snowden packing to Siberia. It stands for; National center of Incident readiness and Strategy for Cybersecurity (their use of upper/lower cases, not ours). We don’t know a great deal about what these people do on a day to day basis. Perhaps they spend much of their time deleting ISIS social media accounts. We don’t know. What we do know is that they’ve taken themselves away from other cybersecurity issues to produce a guide entitled ポケモントレーナーのみんなへおねがい / A Request To All Pokémon Trainers.
The opening blurb tells us that it’s not only Rocket Gang, there is other trouble lying in wait (while we play Pokémon Go).
There are 9 sections to the Pokémon Go ‘safety guide’, which we attempt to bring to you here. Be warned, this is not an official translation!
1. Protect Privacy
Don’t use your real name when you register. Use a nickname. If you use a your real name as your nickname (on the game), people may end up chasing you, instead! With the image that you register, don’t use anything close to your house, lest it be identified. Also, adjust your settings so that GPS information isn’t included in the image.
2. Imitation Applications, Cheat Tools
Content that gathered from a lot of people, is the perfect target for hackers. There will also be applications loaded with malware/virus’, and cheat tools that could lead to an attack. Traps to ‘look over here’ may lie in wait. Only use applications from ‘official’ stores.
3. Be Sure To Make Use Of A Weather Application
This is a game played outside, so be sure to pay attention to the weather. Use applications that can sound alarms, and when they ring, stop your ‘hunting’. Pay particular attention to ‘special alerts’ requiring immediate action to prevent loss of life. When exploring beaches and coastlines, always be aware of places you can head to for safety.
4. Prevent Heatstroke
When walking around under the blazing sun, be vigilant against heatstroke. Read up and understand the symptoms of heatstroke, take regular breaks in the shade, and take on board drinks (with hydration salts). Don’t limit yourself to water. Hats and parasols are also effective. When you’re sweating, putting your smartphone into clothing pockets will mean moisture getting into the device, but you’ll all be holding your smartphones in your hand, so it’ll be OK. Right?!
5: Carry A Spare Battery
Games like this (Pokémon Go) use GPS, which itself consumes a lot of battery power. As a result, batteries can run out faster than usual. Smartphones are not just for games, they are also an important means of making contact. So, in order that you don’t run out of power, carry a spare battery, or a charger with you as you walk. When you take breaks, get permission to use charge sockets/plugs and frequently replenish the phone’s power. No unauthorized use (of sockets)!
6: Prepare A Backup Means Of Contact
Should your smartphone run out of power and you’re unable to use it to make calls, have a telephone card ready and be sure to know how to use public phones.
Kids going out alone or with friends should, before heading out, send moms/dads a picture of themselves so as to make the search easier should they get lost.
7: Don’t Enter Dangerous Areas
In countries where the game has already been released, accidents have occurred with gamers being hit by cars, falling into ponds, bitten by snakes, and falling victim to thefts. Don’t enter dangerous terrain or rough (in the social sense) areas.
In some countries there are also incidents involving guns, as well as, the possibility of being arrested for using one's camera in certain areas, so take care when playing overseas.
8: Be Vigilant With People Who Want To Meet Up
Be careful of people who may use the game as an excuse to meet up. When you simply have to meet with someone through the game, take an adult along with you.
Avoid exploring places where nobody is around. There could be other ‘monsters’ (in the different sense of the word) in the area.
9: Don’t Use Your Smartphone While Walking
A lot of accidents occur when people walk while using their smartphones. An example of this is coming into contact with trains at station platforms. It’s very dangerous to use a smartphone while walking. The game has a function that can make the smartphone vibrate when a monster is around. Make use of this function. When the phone vibrates, stop, check your surroundings, and then look at your phone.
Of course, no gaming when you’re riding a bicycle.
Obviously then, much of this is geared up towards kids (Isn’t the game?! Just kidding!). A lot of it will appear as common sense, in fact all of it should really. Still, we’ve already seen many an example of common sense being tossed aside when it comes time to chase down augmented reality monsters. Oh, and good luck with enforcing point No. 9!
Thoughts guys! Is this an example of Japan being a nanny state? Or is this guide good common sense at a time when so many adults (let alone kids) seem to be losing it?
See the guide in full here: http://www.nisc.go.jp/active/kihon/pdf/reminder_20160721.pdf