Pokemon Go and the oppressive outside world

Even though Pokemon Go does encourage Pokemaniacs to go outside for once, certain groups of people (namely women and PoC) were more cautious than any other groups. This is obvious since rape culture still thrive, and the tension between African Americans and Police are still rising. Not to mention certain areas were ignored as well.

Regardless, I think it’s also a perfect way to spread the message and awareness to other Pokemon Trainers; Still, I highly doubt commercial products can make a difference.

So what can we do to address this problem?


Perhaps some sort of feedback mechanism where players could rate the suitability of areas on the map for play. It seems obvious to me that there needs to be much greater sophistication and investment of effort made to edit and curate the geocontent databases for use in augmented reality gaming. Crowdsourcing should be part of that picture, since it’s too much effort to completely centralize, but there need to be more resources brought to bear on the problem from the publishers, too.


Whats with the scare quotes around rape culture?

Some (if not, sadly most) people don’t take feminist issues as seriously as they should.

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Using scare quotes like that usually indicates that the poster of said quotes does not believe in the item in the quotes; ie - you.


Good call, it’s just that I don’t want to be viewed as an tumblrette that the harsh corners of the internet make a fuss about.


No worries.

[now you know what it feels like to be a woman on the internet with opinions! ;)]


Use the crime report data as part of the crowdsourced map to mark areas to be careful in while playing?


Ok, I might be misunderstanding something but what about the Mary Sue article reflects directly to rape culture? The article seemed more about how introverts are basically told they are wrong for not wanting to socialize with strangers, but I’m curious.

I get how she would be uncomfortable is every single one of those situations, and I get how someone following too close or tapping her shoulders to get her attention is really rude shit that has become kosher at some point (especially for young men).

Doesn’t that actually make the problem worse since high-crime areas tend to be in low-income areas?

And I wanted to point out to you in the other thread, where you said “the only thing stopping people in my neighborhood from playing…” If black neighborhoods have fewer pokestops and gyms, then on average, players who live in such neighborhoods will not do as well at Pokemon Go, will probably not enjoy it as much, and will thus probably play less or be more likely to quit.

Before mobile devices started getting most of the market share for online activities, people talked about a “digital divide” where low-income folks and especially ethnic minorities who tend to be poor had less internet access. The rise of mobile started to overcome this “digital divide”, but I think Pokemon Go and how it sourced its location DB shows how the “digital divide” can be perpetuated as the internet of things and AR become more prevalent.

And this is just about a game so far. When AR starts to provide useful services that generate wealth – by increasing productivity, say – and if those services tend to cluster in wealthy areas, then AR is created a feedback effect where wealth creates more wealth. This would exacerbate our already worrying levels of wealth inequality.

But I live in a largely black neighborhood (it is about 60/40 black) and we have plenty of Ingress portals and Pokestops. So that isn’t a reason why black folks aren’t playing here. The reasons, AFAIK as I can anecdotally see, is that black folks around here largely don’t have smartphones (which I think is less and less true over time) or ?? I dunno. They don’t care about such games for some reason? This is what I’ve observed for Ingress. For Pokemon, we’re in, what, week 3 and it is a phenomena. That said, anyone in my neighborhood who is black is as able to play as anyone else around here.

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I didn’t realize that your neighborhood had plenty of Ingress portals. I guess I assumed you were trying to use your neighborhood as a representative example, but now it sounds like it probably isn’t.

Well, it is Oakland, a traditionally black neighborhood and one, until the last two or so years, written off as a ghetto or slum…

So what is a representative example then? Slums where no white folks live?

Are you trying to say that pokestops do not tend to cluster around affluent/white areas?

Because I think we’re talking about the tendency of pokestops to cluster around affluent/white areas and the notion that it tends to contribute to de facto segregation.

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You almost got there on your own. It’s the acceptance of really rude shit as the norm for young men, especially when interacting with a young woman, that reflects directly to rape culture.


As it happens, I’m familiar with your neighborhood (hello, fellow Oaklander!) and can tell you that during its very low income years North Oakland also had a fairly high student population. Which could well explain the number of Ingress portals.

West Oakland (high majority black for several decades, now undergoing gentrification) didn’t have a high student population, so it would be interesting to see whether it has Ingress portals. Not conclusive, of course, but certainly suggestive.


They cluster in areas with smartphones. You can then extrapolate from that.

This is as much a money issue as it is anything else (though class and race are pretty married in America).

That might very well be true. Also, Emeryville is next door and people transit through. Eville has Pixar and a number of startups as well.

No, they cluster in areas where people play Ingress. Large proportions of poorer people own smartphones – probably not quite as large a proportion as for the wealthy, but the difference isn’t as stark as it was with laptops and desktops. The smartphone demographics are a lot more diverse than the Ingress player demographics.

So my point is, the widespread ownership of smartphones was starting to narrow the digital divide, but mobile services whose data sets are crowdsourced from the behavior of white people will tend to widen it again.

That makes sense, a small cog keeping the whole engine running.

That one just didn’t click with me, because I have many of the same experiences when walking in urban areas just because some people are just really invasive. It’s so alien to me, because I’m one wife and child away from being a hermit.

I imagine it’s a situation where it happens to me, but happens to women ten-fold.

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But minorities are not excluded from playing Ingress so this is a self-created problem then? If they have smart phones and the option to play then I’m not sure how there is a problem of the digital divide separating racial groups.

I mean, if anyone can play (and did) and the data comes from players, then this isn’t white folks excluding black folks from the game and digital life, is it?