Another dot in the blogosphere?

#PokémonGo and one-size-fits-all

Posted on: November 19, 2016

My reflection today is about how the practice of “one-size-fits-all” helps and harms. I use a recent change in Pokémon Go as an example.

About a week ago, the Pokémon SG Facebook group reacted with dismay that Niantic had put bigger restrictions on playing the game while moving at vehicular speeds.

Previously gameplay was unhindered and then there was a pop-up warning that could be dismissed with a tap. The latest change means that gamers cannot collect items at Poké stops above a certain speed and they cannot see Pokémon either.

This obviously does travellers in public transport like buses or trains no good and one might see why gamers were upset. But a few gamers also pointed out that this measure was directed at inconsiderate and reckless drivers who keep playing the game despite visual warnings.

The game cannot determine if a user is in public transport or a reckless driver, so it applies a one-size-fits-all if-then rule. If the gamer is travelling beyond a certain speed, inhibit game play.

Such a one-size-fits-all, while unpopular, is easy to rationalise: It punishes everyone, but it is helpful as it prevents a minority from harming the majority.

However, there is another one-size-fits-all rule that does not benefit a growing minority. It targets those that cheat. Niantic is banning players who use teleportation tools to spoof their locations. These tools allow players to move anywhere in the world while not actually moving physically.

While I do not use such tools and I play the game as intended, I can see exceptions to such a rule. The gamer might be physically incapable of moving due to a temporary or permanent physical condition. The gamer might be old and less mobile, or might suffer from a psychological or somatic condition that prevents them from being outdoors.

Granted that the game was not designed for these exceptions in mind. Most things are not. But if were are to be inclusive, particularly with technology, then we must challenge such one-size-fits-all approaches. The reality is one-size-fits-none!

In the realm of education, one-size-fits-all is dominant but passé. We now have informal learning opportunities that can be personal (by choice) and personalised (with technology). The barriers are not seeing the possibilities or standing in their way.

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