author Alan King, Wednesday July 20, 2016

As you may have noticed, Pokemon Go has been exploding in popularity. With more daily users than twitter and more user engagement than Facebook, it’s safe to say just about all of your students know about the game.

Available across the globe, Pokemon Go is the latest fad to put pressure on Campus Security and Police departments alike. We decided to put together a quick post on some helpful information about the game.

What is it?

Pokemon Go is a Geo-Location Augmented Reality video game available “free to play” on the Appstores, meaning that it’s free to download but some parts of the game require a purchase. From a technical point of view, it’s actually using the same hardware capabilities that Virtual Walkhome and Friend Walk use to track users’ postilions, except with a lot more Pokemon!

Why is it so popular?

This is a bigger question, but we can assume a few reasons as to why. First is that Pokemon is very nostalgic for many of this generation. Students at Higher Education institutions now (and even recent alumni) will have played Pokemon on a Game Boy (remember Game Boys!?) and/or watched it on TV as kids. 

It’s also very easy to both play and understand. Essentially players run around the real world in order to find and capture Pokemon. The more Pokemon you capture, the better. You can even fight them at “Gyms”. Here’s a handy article overview.

How has it affected Campus Safety?

Campus Police and Security departments have all noted an increase in people on their campuses – both students and others – in search of Pokemon. The odd thing is that people aren’t always around during daylight hours as many players may try searching as early as 3am. In some cases, there are bonuses for players at certain times of day but most of the time this is simply just users playing the game in hours that meet their odd schedules.

While there are have been some bad incidents, such as criminals using the game to lure in victims, the majority of the response from Campus Safety officials has been cautiously positive. Typically, the response is an increase in patrols or additional personnel deployed to help protect the increased campus population. At the University of Central Florida they even advertised (via Twitter) that their campus safety escort service would be perfect for those “on campus late for #Pokemon”. 

Our Thoughts

We think it’s a fad, but a relatively harmless one. While there have also been complaints of people not paying enough attention when walking/biking/driving around, most of the time friends are simply having fun trying to catch Pokemon together (while accidentally getting some exercise!). It’s great to see Campus Security and Police departments getting in on the fun and especially great to see them helping protect users from thugs.  

Pokemon GO might also be an opportunity to promote the Friend Walk feature of your AppArmor custom safety app - a safe way to get home after catching those pesky Pokemon!

Have any questions about Pokemon GO? How has it been affecting your campus? Comment below and let us know!