Saving Hogwarts – A guide to the Wizards Unite game

  • Awareness
  • 23/08/2019
  • Austrian Safer Internet Centre

Austrian Safer Internet Centre (SIC) has tested the newly released Wizards Unite smartphone game and shares some advice with parents on how to best support their child in using this game safely. 

Smartphone game Wizards Unite is trending among young people in Austria. The plot relates to the Harry Potter stories, with a new twist: an accident results in magic objects and creatures being spread out in the human world. The mission of the game is to collect them and to bring them back into the magical world of Harry Potter.

Walking with a purpose?

Wizards Unite is, after Ingress and the highly popular game Pokémon Go, the third augmented reality game of this kind. When playing, users are stuck to their phone's screen while walking through the city – moving around is part of the game. This is not restricted to walking; the game also works while players ride public transportation or move slowly in a car. A lot of objects and important areas of the game, such as restaurants or arenas, are in urban parks or at important places in the city. In larger cities, one discovers a lot of new urban spots with the game – a positive aspect of the game being that it encourages users to discover their own cities. In this respect, cities are considerably advantaged, to the detriment of smaller municipalities and villages, which lack the necessary infrastructure for the game.

Age limit in Austria: 14 years old

The terms of use are disconcerting, as the age limits reach from 13 to 16 years. In Austria, due to the data protection regulation, the age limit is 14 years old, though younger children may open an account with parental permission.

Beware of in-app purchases and intensive mobile data usage!

The first few days in the game are relatively uncomplicated. The "dungeons", the storages of the game, are empty and can be filled comfortably with the objects needed to brew magic potions or harvest plants. But within only a few days, the dungeons are full. The player can either choose to remove stuff, or to pay for larger dungeons. The temptation is high to spend money and get some "Gringott", the in-game currency. For this reason, advises parents to set up rules before their child starts playing Wizards Unite. Are in-app purchases allowed? How many? Who pays for the purchases?

On another note, one of the tasks of the games is to walk at least 0.25 kilometres per day. To be able to make a so-called "portation", the player needs to walk at least seven kilometres. This means that the app must be running constantly and substantially uses battery as well as data volume. Thus, also advises parents to pay attention to whether their child has enough credit to play this game.

Find out more information about the work of the Austrian 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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