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Pokemon Go is all the rage. The augmented reality game has taken off around the world with people tracking down “Poke Stops” and collecting Pokemon characters on their smartphones. But it has come with some undesired, even dangerous side effects.
Combining a video game with a real-world scavenger hunt, the objective is to get out and collect digital Pokemon characters and icons “hidden” in spots all over the world. And players are getting out there – thousands of them! We’ve even seen it here first hand at Slater Vecchio – a busy street corner just outside our office has been one of the stops with people lined up on the sidewalks trying to zap characters.
While the app has become more popular than Twitter or Tinder, there are reports of some dangers with the game. Many players have become so focused on getting points and tracking down characters that they’ve actually hurt themselves in the process.
Some reports have shown people walking into busy intersections trying to snap a character, others tripping and falling because they were too focused on the games, and even some stranger incidents. Players finding dead bodies or being lured into being robbed are just a few events alleged to have happened because of the game. In BC, there have been reports of players wandering into places they shouldn’t be – like the Richmond office of the RCMP. Fortunately, the game does have a built in speed limit to prevent players from driving while playing.
But it does open up some questions about our use of technology and draws parallels to other distracted activities like texting or viewing social media. Games are fun, but if you still have to play by the rules of the real world. That means focusing on your environment, paying attention to traffic and pedestrians, and being mindful to not enter private property or restricted areas. The Vancouver Police Department agrees with us on these points – they’ve even issued a statement on Pokemon Go. Like in sport, safety is the first rule, and as more games like Pokemon Go merge the digital and real worlds, it will become even more important to play it safe.
By now, most are aware of the dangers of distracted driving. It recently surpassed drunk driving as the number one cause of road accident fatalities, causing 81 deaths in 2012 compared to 55 drinking driving deaths in 2013. Last year, police issued 51,000 tickets for distracted driving offences – many of which involved texting or emailing while driving.
The focus on distracted driving has boosted demand for innovative technologies designed to prevent cell phone use by drivers.