Thursday, October 6, 2016

Boycott Pokemon Go

Such a sad story I have to belatedly relay.  I'll condense it where I can.

A friend of mine has a child with a disability.  The boy really wanted to try out the Pokemon Go game. With some software and hardware ingenuity we managed to get Pokemon Go to work using his existing accessibility hardware over a USB cable. 

He really was happy to be able to catch pidgeys and rattatas in his neighborhood. He really perked up, and his parents could tell too. After a couple of weeks of playing 4-6 hours a day with friends helping to push his wheelchair around (saving precious battery power) to various hotspots and hatching eggs, he managed to 'catch em all'.. but one.. he never could seem to get a "farfetch'd".

Part 2...

Every year, his family pools their airline flight miles and as many people as possible fly to Disney World in Florida for a week.  The child enjoys this every year.  This year, someone had the idea to go to Tokyo Disney Land to catch a farfetch'd.  Instead of seven or eight people coming to Florida, my friend's parents and their child were going to Japan.  After a long drive to Atlanta to see the aunts and uncles for a few days, the long LONG flight to Tokyo (via San Francisco) was over.

A day spent sleeping and recharging all the phones, batteries and wheelchair accessories and they were all ready to catch that last Pokemon.

Part 3...

Now things start going downhill.  Into the park they go. By all accounts it is a fun place (so said his dad), and everything is in both Japanese and English.  Either the Mouse likes Pokemon, or it was luck, but the monorail around the park goes slow enough to hatch eggs and grab some other Pokemon.  A few hours of this, and some sightseeing at other places in the park was nice.. but no farfetch'd.  

A quick Google says that farfetch'd is in a park created for the Tokyo Olympics.  Tokyo has a great mass transit system, and just showing a picture of the park to some locals got everyone on the right train.  Now the final hunt begins!  After a couple of hours of no luck everyone goes to dinner.

After dinner, the game is reloaded, and tells the child an update is needed.. fine. Update via Play store. and guess what (you Pokemon go players already know this pic I'm linking)

Niantic is Evil

Being thousands of miles away from 'tech support' is not good. No one else playing the game back in Florida got that error, because we were not rooted (a requirement for the USB control cable).  Guess what? A little boy has had his dream trip shattered because some moron programmer at Niantic thought it would be better to kill off some people who spoof GPS than to consider legitimate uses of root. 

They 'enjoy' a couple of more days  in Japan. His dad even bought another phone to try and play Pokemon, but of course he got a nasty message that it was against TOS to play on more than one device at once.

(editorial) Thank you Niantic for screwing up soooo badly that your uninstall rate is now probably as large as your install rate during July.

Epilogue


Thankfully, anything a programmer can program, another programmer can fix. Now this child can play Pokemon Go in an emulator, using his mouth controller to change GPS without even having to leave his house.

It is sad to see someone driving in 'circles' around his virtual neighboorhood trying to hatch just the right egg.

If this jerks at your heart, feel free to forward it on (to Niantic or wherever)