Pokemon Go: Developers Drop the Pokeball on Accessibility

I was excited for a new, free Pokémon game – until I realized it wasn’t accessible.

I don’t begrudge anyone their fun with Pokémon Go. It’s a good way to get folks out and around in their community if they have the ability to do so. Seeing strangers bond over a shared interest is fantastic. Some have said it helps with their mental and emotional well-being. But developers are ignoring a significant portion of gamers – disabled people. Inaccessible games are nothing new (listen to me talk about it), but we can’t accept the status quo when it increasingly and continually marginalizes us.

So, what makes Pokémon Go not accessible for me and other disabled users?

While I have the ability to leave my house, it is difficult to navigate the community in a wheelchair. Cracked concrete, lack of curb cuts and sidewalks, stairs, steep hills, dirt roads, rocky roads, sand – it’s all here, and it’s all an obstacle or completely impassable. I can’t get to that hotspot on the beach or on a hill. I can’t drive, and rely on others for transportation – meaning I don’t get out much. I can’t go out at all on my own. I can’t carry my phone and use it independently outdoors, unless there is a table – and those things don’t grow on trees. I can’t hold the phone up to take a picture or look at what I’m doing. Add in anxiety and chronic pain, and it’s a mess.

Pokemon Go logo with yellow letters and a pokeball in the O

I’ve caught a total of two Pokémon; one at home, and one at a restaurant. I haven’t left my house in five days, and I used the only incense available. There were no recent Pokemon sightings around here since then. While many folks can walk around to up their XP, incubate eggs, and go to gyms, I’m sitting here feeling like a nerd outsider.

Of course, my individual access needs are not the only problem. There are articles out there about the developers’ silence on accessibility, about lack of VoiceOver access for blind users, and a heap of other concerns. This isn’t an isolated incident.

How can developers at Niantic meet these access needs? As with all accessibility, one size doesn’t fit all. Disabled gamers have myriad needs and different ways of playing/modifying their gaming experience. But start with something like free incense, allowing your character to virtually travel, and allowing VoiceOver access. What about in-game tutorials and text-to-speech? The only way we’ll get changes is if developers work with us.

Making games accessible for more people needs to start at the beginning, not as an afterthought. It starts at home, where we teach our children about disability, or where we do not harm disabled children through exclusion or oppression. It starts through education and empowering disabled children to design and develop their own gadgets or games. And it starts by collaborating with disabled individuals in all areas of technology, from programmers to play-testers.

Screengrab of Pokemon Go, player with a blue target before them, on a google map type gridSome may say “it’s only a game” – but those saying that probably have the abilities needed to play. Yeah, it’s “only a game,” like that restaurant with stairs is “only a place to eat,” or that doctor’s office without accessible exam tables is “only a place to better your health.” Disabled people face ableism and access barriers all the time; when our methods of fun and relaxation are also blocked, it’s a hard pill to swallow.

We can’t dismiss topics like accessible gaming as frivolous, or detracting from “real issues.” The means by which disabled individuals access cultural trends or activities is crucial to disability justice. Housing, medical care, physical care, and access to voting and food are extremely important topics. But so is access to entertainment. To suggest otherwise is to make us the Other, as though we don’t deserve to have fun because we are disabled; as long as we can eat, sleep, and breathe, that should be enough.

We are part of society – screw “disability inclusion,” because we are already here. One thing we need, as a worldwide community, is to dismantle how we view disability, accessibility, and technology. We also have to look at this from an intersectional lens; class, race, ethnicity, and gender all factor into technological and gaming accessibility.

Here’s hoping the developers of Pokémon Go take notice and join the disabled community in a conversation about accessibility. We gotta catch ‘em all, too, right?

57 thoughts on “Pokemon Go: Developers Drop the Pokeball on Accessibility

  1. I suppose the whole genre of “location-based games” is impossible if you’re not mobile. You could play the game with fake location, like some Ingress players do. Unfortunately spammers and cheaters and bots have made sure that such a legitimate use of fake location now gets you banned in Ingress.

    One of my kids has a different problem. He has a learning disability, so many games are just too complex for him, or too fast-paced. Unless developers publish “easy” versions, he can’t play those games.

  2. There are plenty of games that don’t require movement. Pokemon Go is a game literally based on walking around and catching Pokemon. This is a game company, not a doctors office or some government sanctioned building. They don’t have to meet everybody needs.

    • Larry, you do realize that this is a site where Erin discusses inaccessibility, games, and other geeky things as a disabled woman right? that is the premise of this site, it’s right there in the title. She is talking about it because not only is it important to talk about these accessibility issues in a society that does not front and center the experiences of disabled folks and those with learning disabilities and other ways that make bodies/minds differ from the norm but because she (as do I) want the gaming industry to do better, to think of how they are excluding possible fans. You’re right, they don’t have to meet everyone’s needs, but we can continue to disagree, write about, talk about, write articles and post on social media how they continue to make inaccessible games for everyone, including kids and adults with disabilities and learning disabilities.

  3. Someone told me you can do this with an upside down bicycle but it should work with a wheelchair too. If you put a pouch of some sort (or any form of attachment really) on the wheel spokes and throw the phone it there, it will usually register as running so you can hatch eggs

    • When I log in on wifi, it gets confused about where exactly I am, and my avatar starts pacing around the area, and sometimes running across the street and back again, and all that gets registered as “walking.” Just leaving it on for about an hour, on wifi and plugged into the charger, I “walked” about half a kilometer.

  4. I have seen pouches attached to a dog’s collar with a phone inside, to register steps and help hatch eggs. I don’t know if it works. I might experiment with it, and let you know 😉

  5. There’s not really any excuse for this, as it’s common for games to come out in multiple “modes,” like an easy mode or an expert mode or… couldn’t they have had a mode in which more Pokemon come to you? At any rate: well written.

  6. I think maybe Larry could have been more sensitive in the way he worded his comment. There is such notorious backlash from organizations that fight childhood obesity or promote other health and exercise initiatives about the danger of spending too much time playing sedentary video games for the part of the population for whom being sedentary is a choice, and not the best one for their health. As you mention, not every game is going to meet the needs of every community. Since it’s my understanding that the majority of video games do meet the needs of wheelchair-bound or other disabled players, I’m a little less bothered that there is this one game that doesn’t. As Larry said, this game is designed in large part to get people who are able to walk around doing so, and it’s a very important goal. (I’m a fat runner, so I’m not body or health shaming anyone. I believe strongly in the body positivity movement. I also believe strongly in the importance of movement for those people for whom the doctor recommends it.) Basically it sucks that this game isn’t accessible to handicapped people. It totally sucks. But I think it’s more in the category of things that suck about not being able to move around independently than it is the fault of the game developers. More free incense and Voice Activation seem like great ideas. I also think it might be fun to think of hacks. But as Larry noted a large part of the point of this game is physical travel, not virtual travel, which is offered in most video games (and, you know, if you’re a warg in the 7 kingdoms.) I don’t think this is frivolous or not an important issue, and I really enjoyed reading about your experience and perspective. I hope I’ve managed to comment respectfully, which is always my intention. We need games that are accessible to handicapped users, and we also need games that get people who need physical activities like walking up and off the couch.

    • Thanks for the comment and discussion. A few things, in list form, because I’m tired:

      • “wheelchair-bound” is not a good term to use. I’m not bound to my wheelchair. It’s something I use to better my life and gives me the ability to move throughout the community. Google the term, and there are a lot of articles about why it’s not cool to use that. Same with “handicapped” – just no.
      • It’s not accessible because I can’t walk? Are buildings also not accessible because I can’t walk, or because there are no ramps or elevators? What my article tries to point out is that we need to stop looking at accessibility as a problem to be fixed after, and look at it as part of design to begin with.
      • There are many ways Pokemon GO can be updated to make it more accessible, without hindering the physical aspect of the game (some of which you mention). Disabled people’s access needs isn’t hurting abled people’s exercise routines. It’s not like Pokemon GO is the only way to socialize or get up and out of the house – it’s not either/or. But the games inaccessibility is part of a larger problem in game development, which is what I was trying to point out – it’s not just about Pokemon GO.
      • I’m really very sorry I used offensive terms. I thought I remembered you using handicapped and so thought it was appropriate but I should have reread to be sure. Thanks for pointing those out and I will read up on them to better understand. Looking forward to becoming a reader. Found this through a friend’s link.

      • Hello, how are you doing? I have a learning disability and attention deficit disorder and I’m stuck in the house because my father cant be alone. and I was playing Pokémon and then I could not log in any more and I filled out a ticket and I received a email stating that my account was banned and I could no longer play. I’m sorry but I feel that this is discrimination to the people who have disabilities and or are wheel chair bound it is not fair to us

  7. Hi! I loved your post! And I just wanted to throw it out there that if you contact Nintendo about accessibility issues with PokemonGo they will enable certain features that will make more Pokemon come to you- not sure if does anything for gym battles. Not saying its the same thing of course, but Nintendo did think about accessibility which is more than most do, and if the word gets out that they actually have this available for people then other devs could see a future in it as well.

    I hope more dev teams and companies include accessibility components in the future. It all starts with posts like yours. <3

  8. I heard that if you contact the makers of the game and show them proof of disability that they can change the settings to make the Pokemon come to you. That one person used their handicap placard for their car as proof. Not sure how true it is but worth a shot? Maybe they are accessible just not widely known?

    • I have to look into it. I find it pretty off-putting, though, that they would expect disabled people to prove their disability to gain access. Right? Not sure that’s even legal.

  9. I understand how you feel and I sympathize with the situation of those with mobility difficulties, I truly do. But with all due respect, over the last twenty years of Pokemon’s history, I think every game until now has been playable by those with mobility difficulties. Pokemon GO is really the first one that requires actual movement as far as I can remember (unless one counts that Pocket Pikachu toy that counted ones steps as they walked). If one wants to play a handheld Pokemon game that doesn’t require movement to capture, trade, battle, and photograph Pokemon, couldn’t they just play one of the many Pokemon games from the main handheld RPG series? Within this generation alone on the Nintendo 3DS one has Pokemon X, Y, Omega Ruby, and Alpha Sapphire to choose from, with the new seventh generation Pokemon games starting with Sun and Moon coming out this November.

    Now, if Niantic can come up with a way that lets people with mobility difficulties play Pokemon GO, I think that would be great. However, I hope it would be in a way that wouldn’t let people who don’t have mobility difficulties take advantage of it to play without having to get up off the couch. I think one of the positive aspects of this game is encouraging people to get up, get out, and get some fresh air and exercise so I wouldn’t want to see there being a general option to play without doing that.

    Anyhow, again, I mean no disrespect. I just mean that I don’t think it’s completely unreasonable if Niantic doesn’t come up with a way for people with mobility problems or vision impairment to play Pokemon GO. It seems like for a while they’re going to be busy trying to deal with the strains of keeping the servers going for those countries who already have the game, releasing the game to the countries that don’t, fixing the bugs, eventually adding the additional content that was shown in the trailers like trading, possibly personal battles, supposed legendary events, etc, so I can understand how making this game inclusive to those with mobility difficulties or vision impairments may not be on the top of their to-do list, at least not for a long while.

    • All video games require some mobility, as we are not at the point yet where we can play games with only our thoughts. Video games are, and continue to be, inaccessible for many people. Accessibility is an ongoing process that requires community effort and support. That said, comments like “just play another game” and “it’s not that important” come across as very othering and ableist. I appreciate the effort and time you took to respond, but accessibility is extremely important and should be considered for every game or app. VR and location-based games appear to be the latest in game development; if we tell disabled people that they should play older games to get their entertainment fix, we’ll be left in the dust. Developers should consider accessibility from the beginning, as I stated in my post.

      • Since this is the first article I’ve read, I don’t know what particular conditions you have that allows a wheelchair to make your life better. I know it can be anything from a problem with legs, to the back, to nerves, to pain, and that’s only from what I know. But I think a lot of people only consider the back/legs use of wheelchairs, so the wheelchair /is/ part of the solution.

        However, I get the feeling you’re not just talking about mobility, but anything that physically makes pursuing an interest in video games difficult, especially now that we are in such an electronic-based age, with the internet being one of the fastest sources of information and communication and video game playing taking a front seat in mainstream entertainment rather than being something only ‘geeks’ did, such as when I was a child.

        It’s an article about inclusion, and I think you’re right. Nintendo, for example, (I don’t know anything about Niantic as a company) certainly should have enough money to have a team of people that can research into the variety of things that prevent people from using their products and find ways to make them more accessible. People should think less about excuses why people CAN’T have things and consider more about how to make things more accessible.

        But without people like you expressing this and letting us know, many of us wouldn’t think about it because it’s largely in human nature to focus on what we know, what is familiar, and what is right in front of us. I have to confess I didn’t even think of this issue when I first started playing the game, though I do struggle to get around myself.

        • Thanks for the comment, Jessica. I have Muscular Dystrophy, which not just limits my mobility, but it limits my strength, range-of-motion, and other physical aspects that affect the way I game. There’s a lot of ways to make a game more accessible – my article is an attempt to bring those ways to the forefront and have accessibility be a thing always integrated into design. I appreciate your kind words!

      • I am extremely late to this conversation and am enthralled by it. I teach a basic intro to game design course and I like to think that I’m well rounded enough to have an intelligent conversation about accessibility in games. The augmented reality games offer a new challenge in that sometimes reality is not equal. I cannot think of a way to balance this from the game mechanics side. Allowing individuals the choice of difficulty might break the game as it is intended to be played. This is esp. true in cases where physical location and rarity are built into the game.

        What might be helpful (IMHO) is if Niantic mapped out, or allowed players to flag points as accessible or not. My son and I would regularly make trips to the local university as there was a nice path that could easily be traveled.

        I look forward to reading through the rest of your blog. You offer an intelligent view on many of the geeky things I care about.

        • Thanks for reading my blog, glad you are enjoying it.

          Re: accessibility, for me, is all about options. I think a game can offer different settings without breaking it. Like any game that has a difficulty setting (as many games already do) is not broken, it just means more people can play.

  10. I am physically disabled and I play Pokemon Go. I live in an urban area with several Pokestops nearby that I can get to on my own on flat ground, plus there’s a free bus a block from my house that connects me to well over a hundred Pokestops. I have family who assists me by driving me to locations where I can catch a lot of Pokemon without leaving the car. I have some issues with fine motor control in my hands, my hands shake, but I am able to play alright. I wear my phone on a lanyard to avoid dropping the phone.

    How much of this is Niantic failing to accommodate the needs of disabled people and how much is the sheer bad luck of you being in a rotten location for the game? If you lived where I lived, I think things would be very different for you. I completely agree with that more games should be accessible (I am unable to play the majority of video games because of poor eye/hand coordination), but if you’ve ever played Pokemon on the DS, then you probably know that it’s one of the most accessible games out there. I know more disabled people who play Pokemon that any other game. It certainly helped me after I had a stroke at age 35. It was a way to cope with chronic pain and depression. I wound up needing fewer meds.

    Too many people use the term disabled to only refer to those who have mobility challenges and often they exclude those with developmental disabilities and mental health challenges. Pokemon (both Go and DS versions) has helped those with autism, depression, anxiety, etc. I’m looking at autistic young people in my sphere and seeing it’s clearly helping them. Did you know that the original Pokemon game was invented by a man with autism, Satoshi Tajiri?

    • I’m glad you are able to play Pokemon GO. I am also glad disabled people are enjoying it and finding that it helps them – I stated so in my article. I live an hour outside of NYC in a small town on the bay, and apparently, it’s a hot-spot for Pokemon. I’ve been able to catch a few in my house, but haven’t left the house since I posted this article. So I’ve caught about ten Pokemon so far. But no, I don’t live where you live, and lots of other disabled people live in less-populated areas, too. There are also disabled people living in nursing homes and other institutions. Just because it’s accessible for one person doesn’t mean it’s accessible for others. In this blog, I am sharing my reality and connecting with others in similar situations.

      The DS is not accessible to me at all, so I have no experience with it. The last time I played Pokemon, it was on my Game Boy, when I had better range-of-motion and strength.

  11. I’ve just been thinking about Ingress. On large feeld ops, we always have operators who coordinate everything. They’re not in the field but staying inside with a computer and a couple monitors with the Ingress map, location of every agent in the field, etc, and the agents in the field would be lost without these operators. Ingress is a team game with different roles; Pokemon GO seems much more like a solo game. Maybe that’ll change in the future.

  12. What about the blind it not fair for them. Fyi life’s not fair play a different game. Life not gonna change to fit your wants. It’s a want not a need shut up

    • Tim, I’m glad you brought your POV to my article for all to read. Thank you for a shining example of what not to do when talking about accessibility and disability.

  13. I haven’t played pokemon go yet, I’ve seen my able bodied friends play and i can definitely see myself coming across barriers. But as a fellow disabled person I’m baffled by some of the commenters on here with the “Do something else” mentality. It may be a game, but it perpetuates the Idea that disabled people come either second or not at all. We should come equally as you said, accessibility should be thought of in the beginning

    • I can understand that some things may be harder to make accessible for everyone, but that should not be an excuse to stop trying, right? With the advances in technology, the excuses for limiting access are becoming fewer and fewer.

  14. Hi, as an aspiring game designer with a long-standing interest in AR, I’ve been thinking this issue over since shortly after the game’s release, and I’m no closer to a conclusion. Before I get any further, I do want to say that I know there should be no burden on you to have to explain this to me, so if you don’t want to, feel free to not bother. I promise not to be a jerk about it if I don’t get an answer.

    So the questions I want to answer are along the lines of, should I end up working no games like this in the future, what could I do better, using this game as an example.

    Some of that is easy. Voice over and audio cues for the blind, for example. Really there’s no excuse for the existing smart phone voice over apps not to work, and adding in more audio cues is certainly not some sort of huge burden.

    Then we get to a sort of medium-but-still-pretty-solvable level. Egg hatching fits here. Most of the solutions I’ve seen seem like they’d still put people with disabilities at a slight disadvantage, such as a timer that hatches an egg a week, but at least they’d be able to play! To be honest I don’t hatch eggs any faster than that, myself, and I don’t have a physical disability, but if someone really wanted to, they could, so it would still encourage walking.

    And there are some fixes that are obvious even to people without disabilities that I’ve seen suggested as also things that would help people with disabilities, such as adjusting distribution of pokestops, or the number of items ones in sparse areas drop.

    But then we get to the harder part: exploring. The makers of the game have been quoted as saying (unfortunately I can’t find the quote right now) the purpose of the game is to get people to explore their community and to exercise more. Which does seem a worthy goal for those who can do it. But how can that goal be maintained while still making it possible for people with disabilities to catch the pokemon/go to stops?

    To be honest, if there was an option to play without leaving my house I’d probably use it, because I have pretty severe anxiety and moderate depression, and the effort to leave my house is just too much some days. The extra incentive Pokemon Go gives me has been wonderful.

    And there’s the thing. I’m trying to think “How could I have designed this to have these core goals and still be more accessible from the beginning, were I the designer?” but I just can’t come up with anything.

    And I’ve even seen some people criticizing the game’s accessibility because people with certain disabilities who can’t go out of their houses much wouldn’t be able to enjoy the social aspect as much, even if everything else was improved.

    So then I start thinking that maybe a game like this one shouldn’t have been made at all, but that doesn’t seem right either. It’s done so much for people with some mental disabilities, or who can and should be active but for whatever reason are not, and I’d like to stress that some of those reasons are not mere laziness.

    I don’t see a solution, so I’m tempted to think that the improvements listed above absolutely should be made but that beyond that “well, maybe this game just isn’t for everyone,” but you pretty much said how that’s a harmful way to think. I’m just so lost on this. Is there actually a point where it’s reasonable to say that a game (or the idea/purpose behind the game) and a disability just aren’t compatible? Even if I follow all of the guidelines on ableGamers (which intend to study and follow whenever possible), some games won’t be accessible to some people. Is it enough to just give these issues thought when disgining a game and do what you can, or should no games be made that can’t be fully accessible to everyone? That second one probably isn’t possible, but how accessible is accessible enough to say, “Ok, I can probably actually make this game, now.” I want to stress that I’m not trying to be a smart alec, here. It’s a genuine concern that I care about and am trying to puzzle out.

    Oh, by the way, I just want to reiterate that I completely agree that there are things that absolutely should have been done and were not. It’s only the idea that the game could still achieve it’s core goals of movement and community exploration, reap the same benefits for people with conditions such as autism and anxiety, and also be able to be played without leaving one’s house that I find difficult. Not because I wouldn’t like it to be possible, but because I’m just not sure it is.

    • I’m a bit sleepy, so I hope this makes sense. I think if you are a game designer and developer, you should approach disability and accessibility from the start, from the inception of your game. Just like theme, art, mechanics – it should be a part of the design process, rather than an afterthought. I think most disabled people know that not every game or app will be accessible, and in some instances, it can’t be accessible. But those people understand their limits, too. For example, if there was an app that tracks, say, how many laps you swim in a pool, folks who can’t swim know that app isn’t for them to begin with – and that’s fine. Like why would someone who can’t swim want to track their swim times?

      But for a video game to not be accessible, especially one that could be accessible, that gets into murky water. I’ve pretty much said all I have to say in the post itself and in other comments, but you bring up a question I want to answer – whether or not games should be made if they are not completely accessible. I think actively working toward accessibility and thinking of it throughout the design process needs to be the goal. Accessibility isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing, and it’s an ongoing process. As long as you work toward that goal and understand what accessibility means and how it affects those playing your game, that is enough I think. The disabled people I know understand this process and are willing continue the dialogue even if it’s not perfect right out of the gate.

      • Responding to myself here, about the swim app analogy – I’m not saying that app shouldn’t be accessible at all, because there are many swimmers who would benefit from VoiceOver or other accessibility features. It just doesn’t have to take into consideration those who can’t swim because of physical disability.

        • No worries; I knew what you meant about the swim app. Anyway, I just popped back on the to thank you for your thoughtful and considerate response to my questions. I really appreciate it. And of course, I will absolutely make sure accessibility considerations are a part of my design process, in both the games I hope to make in the future, and in the more practical software I write now.

  15. Oh! I did want to add that I’m not in any way trying to say that you shouldn’t be frustrated, even if the answer was to be that the game couldn’t be modified to be played without leaving the house. I’ve seen people say things like that, about just getting over stuff because that’s the way it is and I always sort of think, “Ok, that’s nice. That’s not actually how emotions work, though. Stop being a jerk and let the person vent without passing your uncalled-for judgement.” I don’t want to be that jerk. I hope I didn’t come off that way.

  16. Oh. One more thing (sorry I tend to go on). I wanted to give you… well, not my permission, it’s your blog, but my assurance that I will not throw a hissy-fit if you delete my posts because you feel they detract from the conversation you’re trying to have. That’s not what I’m trying to do, but I know that can happen even with the best of intentions, if people misinterpret the point of an article like this one.

  17. I am a mobility-impaired Pokemon Go player and it IS difficult to play. You might ride around with friends and stop at Pokestops but they’ll leave you in the car while they scour the area — taking your device with them but that isn’t fun for the disabled gamer and I don’t want to hinder them from enjoying the game. Eggs are difficult to hatch. I can imagine that someone in a wheel-chair could roll around a parking lot to hatch them but I’m walking disabled, meaning that I can’t get around well but don’t need a wheelchair as of yet.

    I can imagine ways that Niantic could make the game more accessible. I know that using GPS spoofs are soft-banning folks (me included) but, for the disabled, getting a little head-start to an area can make the difference between enjoying the game or sitting at home praying for the occasional Rattata or Pidgey to come along.

    If Niantic would have some permissions for being able to “jump” to a hub of a nearby city, it would do a lot for the disabled community and Niantic’s reputation for enabling the disabled. I could imagine that a disabled (or elderly) person may have to register as such, showing some appropriate proof (Medicare card), then they could ”teleport” to locations within x distance from their home with Pokestops and Gyms. Of course, there would need to be some method to allow movement once you get there but, for me, being dropped into a city that’s about 15-20 miles away would allow me to play the game. It’s still social as well if you can participate in gym battles and discuss your progress and finds with friends.

    I don’t know how difficult that would be to program into the app but, if folks can create GPS spoof apps for free, I suspect that Niantic could figure something out.

  18. I just found this article while googling as I find it a bit of a challenge to play due to disability. I have the wonderful double whammy of being legally blind and having Asperger’s Syndrome. Either of them on its own and I probably wouldn’t have much issue, but both together means I don’t get out much. Because of my visual impairment I can’t drive, and I don’t live very close to a poke stop. Even if I could walk to one, the anxiety that goes with Asperger’s and is sometimes practically paralyzing prevents this. If I’m with someone that can drive me to pokestops great, but that doesn’t happen too often. So “virtual” traveling would really be helpful for getting to those stops (it has been mentioned about possibly having a mode to have more Pokemon come to you, and that’s all well and good, but if you can’t get to stops and run out of balls, well that kinda defeats the purpose of the critters coming to you)! Of course real travel should be used when possible, but when not…

    This brings me to another point. Geekygimp, what is your opinion on hacks? I mean like ones such as described in a YouTube video I found (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1iOdl7UK04), that does allow for virtual travel. I must confess I’ve used it a bit, but it bothers me because it’s technically cheating (and most who use it probably use it as a cheat so they don’t have to unglue their derierre from the couch thus defeating the whole point of the game — to unglue those behinds!), and not only can it earn you a softban as touched upon in the video (and probably in some cases a permanent ban), but I’m generally not big on playing dirty. Actually screw generally, I’m not big on it. But I don’t do it to get ahead of everyone else, I do it to try to catch up to those who don’t have the barriers that I have…basically to compensate.

    What is your opinion on that type of thing? Are we who can’t “go” as much as most justified in using such hacks, or do you believe it’s an all around no-no?

    • Thanks for sharing your experience. I am sort of on the fence about hacks. If they in some way harm players or the developers of the game, that is problematic. But I honestly don’t care about the “cheating” aspect of Pokemon GO, since it’s just a game without real-world consequences. Meaning, it’s not like a video game competition with cash prizes or something. Why would I care if someone collected all the Pokemon through “cheating”? How does that affect my enjoyment of the game? So I can’t blame disabled folks for using these hacks, and I wish Niantic would lay off folks who use them.

  19. Good point. Though, somewhat of a devil’s advocate argument here — generally cheaters aren’t appreciated in a board or card game, and unless it’s poker or something involving gambling, there are no real world consequences either…we just appreciate it generally when those we’re playing with don’t play in ways that gives them an unfair advantage. Though, being that Pokemon go is practically worldwide, it’s a bit different than one player dealing uno cards to two others around a table sneaking a peak at the cards he/she is dealing to know what is in each hand (I’ve seen this).

    My rule of thumb is to try not to use a hack in such a way as to put me unfairly ahead. The hack I’m using has a teleport option, and while you can use it to insta-travel (risking a softban), you have the option to set it to take a specified number of minutes. So my rule of thumb is I’m going to set the speed accordingly so that I reach my destination in about the amount of time it would take by car. Sure, I could hit ten pokestop hotspots with varying real life transport times with a second of transport time between each, but could someone not using a hack do that? Since technology hasn’t advanced enough as of yet to allow real life teleporting, the answer would be no. So I try to set it so it takes me the same amount of time it would if driving. I’ve yet to be soft banned, probably because I have realistic travel speeds. The most I’ve gotten is the “your going too fast and shouldn’t play while driving” notification.

    Incidentally, there’s a discussion on Reddit about this (https://www.reddit.com/r/pokemongo/comments/4us7bj/idd_like_to_squash_this_justification_for_gps/). I’m actually surprised it’s not as heated as it could be.

  20. I hope sharing this link is okay, but I found an interesting article where an attorney explores whether or not Pokemon Go should be ADA compliant. http://associatesmind.com/2016/07/14/pokemongo-comply-americans-disabilities-act/

    There’s no black and white answer, and certainly no court rulings about augmented reality and accessibility, considering AR is pretty new.

    I hadn’t thought that Niantic had any legal obligation to make the game accessible, and maybe they don’t. But it seems maybe they do, or will sometime in the future. Basically depends on how courts interpret the ADA in the context of AR when it arises.

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