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Augmented reality games face an uncertain future in the Middle Kingdom

Remember Pokemon Go, the game that united people all around the world and reinvigorated a gaming franchise thought lost to the 90s?

Well, while the rest of the world traipsed about making fools of themselves, the Middle Kingdom missed all the fun. Many hoped that once mapping issues and national pride were corrected that the game would finally be playable in China, but unfortunately for fans of Pocket Monsters, Chinese state censors recently said that this game and others like it will not be given a license until the security and safety risks have been evaluated.

The crux of the problem seems to be the issue of augmented reality (AR) and location-based services (i.e. recording user locations and uploading them to foreign companies).

Pokemon Go has already been blamed for accidents and trespassing, and the governing body is worried about people stumbling off cliffs or into restricted areas and causing a “threat to geographical information security.”

Chinese gaming companies currently developing Go-esque games featuring the use of augmented reality have had to seek out advice from the licensing body as to how to proceed.

And even if the censors eventually deem AR and location tracking to be non-threatening functions, Pokemon Go will remain nonfunctional as long as Google is exiled.


Ethan Yun is a contributing writer at The World of Chinese.

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