For those who haven’t heard, the latest craze sweeping the nation is a game called Pokémon GO. The game is played on cell phones and is available on all Android and iPhone devices. Players travel around the real world in search of various Pokémon that can be seen and captured using the phone. Explaining the intricate details of the game is a task better left to experts. For our part, the most important thing is that the game appears to be highly diverting and is leading some players into dangerous activities. A serious car crash in New York is being called the first major accident tied to the game, though it likely will not be the last.
While the game is apparently geared toward people walking, the app will run while driving. The game starts with a warning about staying aware of your surroundings, but even minimal observation of those playing it shows that most are highly engaged, even totally engrossed, in the app. Pedestrian accidents, biking accidents and even car accidents will likely be associated with Pokémon GO before long.
The earliest dangers of the game were tied to criminal acts. Players have been robbed and attacked by perpetrators who used elements of the game to track or even draw in victims. Players are encouraged to travel in groups and stay in well-lit areas when playing to deter potential robbers.
Warnings are nice, but games like Pokémon GO should do more to prevent distracted driving. There is no reason why a game that tracks players by GPS should continue to operate when the player is in a moving vehicle. While this would certainly irritate passengers looking to play while someone else drives, it would also save lives. People can wait until they get out of their cars to play a game.
Source: Tech Insider, “A driver playing ‘Pokémon GO’ was involved in a major car crash,” by Ben Gilbert, 13 July 2016