From the makers of Pokémon Go, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is a new free-to-play game that is already proving popular. As in the previous game, but with a wizarding twist, you are challenged to use your real location to navigate a map and take on The Calamity.
Similar to catching Pokemon, you use your smartphone or tablet to cast spells and send items or individuals back to the world of magic. The items appear on the map as you walk around the real world and spells are cast by tracing particular patterns on the device’s screen.
Since its launch in June, the game has already proved popular, although not yet at the fever pitch that Pokemon Go reached. Data from Sensor Tower states that the game was downloaded 400,000 times in its first 24 hours in the U.S. and U.K. With the Harry Potter brand behind it, this looks set to grow in popularity over the coming months.
Three things parents should do are:
In the UK the game has a PEGI 7 rating in the UK with a descriptor of Mild violence. This means that the violence is unrealistic and often directed towards fantasy characters. In the US the game has an ESRB Everyone 10+ with Fantasy Violence rating.
More information can be found in the new PEGI app and website that provide additional detail on the age rating. For example, it states that the game “contains pictures and sounds likely to be scary to young children. The most pertinent examples of this are some of the fantasy creatures found in the game, primarily the large spiders and dementors which attack the player.”
These age ratings address the appropriateness of content rather than the skill or maturity required to play the game. Along with the considerable amount of reading, it’s also worth noting that the app encourages players to explore their local area. Younger children may need to be accompanied and all players need to keep an eye out for hazards and obstacles while they are playing.
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is available on iOS and Android devices. It requires you to grant access to the location and camera features to be played.
You log into the game with either a Facebook or Google account. For children old enough to play the game but who may need help to set up a profile, an adult can create a profile for them through a Niantic parents account. This enables parents to control which features to enable and in particular to turn off sponsored content and adding friends.
Although the game is free to start playing, it offers in-app purchases that range from 99p to £99. If you haven’t turned this off via a parent account, ensure you have reviewed in-app purchase setting on the child’s device before handing it to them to use.
These in-app purchases should be seen as optional extras. Although they will help you progress faster they aren’t essential to play the game.
You can become friends with people you know in the real world by exchanging the game’s unique user code. There isn’t a chat option in the game. In fact, beyond establishing the connection there’s no way to contact or communicate with other players.
However, because the game uses real world locations it can be obvious if a child is playing in public. Some of the bigger battles encourage players to team up and work together. This can mean working with people you don’t know who happen to be in the same physical location.
As with any new video game, the best way to ensure healthy and safe play is to play it yourself and with your child. This also opens up a conversation so they can share any concerns in the game and know you will understand.
Equally, this also enables you to understand when they have achieved something particularly challenging in the game. Praising these achievements is a great way to encourage a healthy relationship with video games.
As with any new craze, there can be a tendency to play it all the time. All new devices offer the ability to limit time playing games. Agreeing to a sensible limit with your child can help them balance gaming with other activities.
Games like Harry Potter Wizards Unite and Pokemon Go can also provide a more active alternative to more sedentary hobbies — whether that is too much reading, television or too much gaming. It’s a great chance to get outside with the family that gives an interactive edge to walks and days out.
If you are headed out to play together, it can be worth taking an extra battery as these interactive apps use a lot of power.
See articles and resources to help children stay safe online.