Pokémon Go — not all fun, games

Watch out! Everyone’s favorite game from the ‘90s is back, this time in the form of a mobile phone application. That’s right, with Nintendo’s release of its new Pokémon Go mobile game, people across America are catching Pokémon fever again.

Wondering how the game works? Well, Pokémon Go uses a mobile phone’s GPS to spot virtual Pokémon on a game map that is pinned to real world locations. When gamers find a Pokémon on their game map, whether it be in a supermarket or bathroom, their smartphone camera opens up, giving them a view of the virtual Pokémon in the real world. Players then flick a Poké Ball toward the creature to capture it. As they move around playing the game, different types of Pokémon will appear on the game map depending on where the player is and the time of day. The more Pokémon and items collected the better chance a player has of beating other gamers.

The game has caused people to venture into many locations in order to catch Pokémon. For instance, it has been reported that people have caught Pokémon in places like a neighbor’s backyard, schools, funerals and hospitals (while the gamer’s wife was in labor). This game also poses a substantial security risk to users when they agree to allow full access permission to their Google accounts during sign-up.

For military members playing the game, it is important to remember a few rules:

1. Avoid opting for the sign-up method that links the game to a personal Google account.

There are two methods of sign-up to play Pokémon Go. The first, which is more extensive, is to sign up for a “Trainer Club” account on the game website. The second option is to link the app to a Google account. While this may be a tempting option, the security risk is not worth it. When linking the app to a Google account, gamers are granting the game programmers full access to their Google accounts including saved Google Drive documents, personal data, email, personal photos and more. To protect from allowing access to Google accounts, sign-up through the game website.

2. Do not play Pokémon Go while walking in uniform.

To play Pokémon Go, gamers must walk around with the app open on their devices. According to AFI 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel, dated July 18, 2011, paragraph 6.3.3.2, it is unacceptable to walk in uniform and use any personal electronic media devices, earpieces, or speakerphones unless it is an emergency, or notifications are necessary.

3. Do not trespass while playing Pokémon Go.

Since the game’s release, gamers have been disciplined for trying to catch a Pokémon in unauthorized areas. Law enforcement officials reported in Washington they apprehended several Pokémon Go gamers for trespassing at a local police station while playing the game.

At a military installation, going to unauthorized areas in order to catch a Pokémon is forbidden. Jumping the fence to visit an unauthorized area on base can trigger emergency alerts across base and could result in disciplinary action.

4. Be mindful of what is being photographed.

One of Pokémon Go’s features allows gamers to see Pokémon in the real world by using a smart phone camera. Taking pictures of classified areas, privileged information, or any number of other confidential, privacy act, or for official use only information, is not allowed.

5. While driving, gamers are not to stop a car in the middle of the road to catch a Pokémon.

Stopping in the middle of a road should only be done in an emergency. Doing so while playing Pokémon could result in the gamer being cited by local authorities.

6. Whether on or off base, gamers should be mindful of where they are playing.

Examples of places where people have played Pokémon Go include the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. and the Arlington National Cemetery. Whether in uniform or civilian clothes, military members are to act appropriately at all times.

Players should also be careful of where they are being lead while playing. One police department reported the game has been used to lure victims into discreet locations where they can be robbed. Always maintain situational awareness.

The bottom line for military members is to use common sense when playing the game. No game is worth jeopardizing a career over.

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