16 August 2016

"Pokemon Go" Is Thinking About Safety, Not Racially Bias

Pokemon Go Safety Concerns
Pokémon come in all colors but it usually congregate in white and safe urban areas.

Pokémon Go players have noticed a some discrepancy in where it's easy to play the game. While some neighborhoods have an abundance of Pokéstops and gyms for players to pick up virtual loot and face off their monsters against competitors, others are near complete dead-zones.

Looking out to look at the big picture confirms that the abundance and absence of Pokéstops are not evenly distributed. As the share of the white population increases, Pokéstops and gyms become more plentiful, according to an analysis of the game by the Urban Institute in Washington DC.

However, it also points out that crime incidence is less in areas where Pokémon Go are concentrated than in areas where no Pokémon location is in sight.

"In neighborhoods that are more peaceful, there are 55 portals on average, compared with 19 portals in neighborhoods that rack by mugging, robbery, homicide, rapes and crimes against property," write tech bloggers who refused to identify themselves.

Fitting the same pattern, Miami has more portals in its less crime-prone neighborhoods than its communities with black majority, according to the Belleville News-Democrat. Chicago's majority black South Side is largely devoid of portals, though they're easy to find in other parts of the city.

There is also no evidence that Pokémon game-makers deliberately excluded black areas. Instead, Pokémon locations were imported from an earlier Niantic augmented reality game called Ingress. The locations of Ingress portals were crowdsourced, from both people who contributed information about landmarks to the Historical Marker Database and later from players of the games themselves.

Ingress players tend to skew male, young, and English-speaking, according to 2013 and 2014 surveys, whereas the database volunteers were mostly male and older, as the Belleville News-Democrat reported. Though more comprehensive demographic information isn't available, the overwhelmingly male and tech-savvy individuals tagged the locations now used for Pokéstops and gyms based on where they frequented, not offering a comprehensive tour of the city.