A parent and carer's Guide to "Harry Potter: Wizards Unite"
- UK Safer Internet Centre
Three years after Pokémon Go was released, the game's creators have released a new game set in the magical world of Harry Potter. The UK Safer Internet Centre (SIC) share their advice on how to ensure children use it safely.
"Harry Potter: Wizards Unite" is a brand new and free to play game that was released in late June, and which has already become very popular. The game revolves around using your real location to place you on a map within the game, and to move around the map you need to walk around in the offline world. Below are a number of things which parents and carers should know about.
As this game is new, there are still updates and new features that will continue to become available as time goes on. The UK SIC wrote this after testing the game out, and will be reviewing it periodically.
What is "Harry Potter: Wizards Unite"?
The premise of the game is that "The Calamity" (the game's name for a magical enemy) has attacked the world of Harry Potter, sending magical items across the world which now run the risk of being found by the non-magical community.
Players use their phone to cast spells to free these items or characters and send them back to the magical world where they belong. To do this, players walk around their local area, and when they see a magical item on their phone screen, they can click on it and cast a spell by tracing a pattern shown on the screen. This allows players to gain points and rewards to help them progress through the game.
As we know, Harry Potter has played a huge role in many young people's lives, and it is no wonder that this game has proven to be popular. With its interactive nature and provision of chances to explore offline, it is understandable why Wizards Unite is being played across the United Kingdom and beyond.
Who is this game suitable for?
The game is rated as PEGI 7 due to some "mild violence". The skills needed to complete tasks within the game can be complex and the reading age needed to understand and follow the in-game instructions seems to be ten and above. In the game, players have to battle against some magical creatures and objects. Some of these characters could be scary for younger users, including hags and vampires.
Key things to know
- Where the game is available – Harry Potter Wizards Unite is an app that is available on Android and Apple devices. The game uses location and camera functions, so in order to play users need to have these switched on and give the app access to this.
- How to create an account – To play Wizards Unite, players need to create a profile using either a Facebook or Google account. Under 16's need an adult to create their profile through a Niantic parents account. Creating a Niantic parents account gives extra protection for younger users. Through the parents account you can choose whether to switch on features such as sponsored content or the ability to add friends.
- Which information is private and which is public – When setting up your ‘wizarding file' in Wizards Unite you have to provide personal information, including choosing a code name. Before choosing any information which will be publicly visible, including your codename (a form of username), there is a warning not to put personal information within it as this may be seen by others. In the game, users select their own profile picture. Currently you have a choice between selecting a pre-set image and taking your own using your phone camera. At this moment in time no one can see your profile picture.
- About in-app purchases – Users can buy coins in the game, allowing them to buy more energy, have more storage space or buy potions. Coin packs range in price, starting at 99p and going up to £99.
- The graphics – Within the game there is no visible blood or graphic violence, however some of the creatures featured within the game may be scary for younger players. When playing the game users may see hags, vampires and haunted books. Although it is clear that these are cartoons they may be scary or worrying for younger players.
- How to add friends – Users can add friends using their unique user code. Within the game there is no chat function or way to contact your friends or other players. Currently the friend feature shows information about your friend's progress throughout the game, however this does not reveal anything about their location. As new updates are released this may change.
- Working with others offline and using location services – In order to battle some more powerful creatures the game encourages you to work with others. To battle these creatures you need to visit a ‘fortress' and work with other people in the surrounding areas. This means that players may gather in the same physical location. The game revolves around using your real location to place you on a map within the game. To move around the map you need to walk around in the offline world, so it is important that players are aware of their surroundings, are only playing in places they are allowed to and looking after themselves and their friends.
- Have an open and honest conversation with your child – It is important to get involved in your child's online activities and a simple and effective way to do so is by talking to them about their life online. Try to maintain an open dialogue with your child and find opportunities to talk to them about what they love to do online. Asking your child about how they play Wizards Unite and what they like about it is a great way to start a conversation. The UK SIC's conversation starters can help you to have this conversation. Parents can help children access the amazing resources the internet has to offer whilst keeping them safe online at the same time.
- Play with them – It may seem daunting, but one of the best things to do is to engage with the gaming environment and begin to understand what makes this game so attractive to young people, as well as giving yourself an idea of the reporting tools available within the game.
- See what other people think of Wizards Unite – Common Sense Media allow parents and young people to give their reviews of games that they have played, including for Wizards Unite.
- Watch videos of game play – If you are not an avid gamer, or do not have hours to spare checking out each level of the game, it can be worth watching videos of gameplay so that you can get a feel for the game. Through watching others play, you can see how each level and battle looks, and decide if you think this is appropriate for your child.
Find out more information about the work of the UK Safer Internet Centre (SIC) generally, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services, or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.
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