If you have seen large groups walking around glued to their mobile phones, chances are you have witnessed people playing Pokémon Go. For those who are unaware, Pokémon was a popular franchise from the 1990s that included a television show, movies, video games and trading cards. The show, much like the games, revolves around capturing and battling Pokémon (Pokémon are creatures with special abilities).
Pokémon Go is a popular new ‘augmented reality’ smartphone game. What do we mean by augmented reality? The game uses phone cameras, GPS and other features to superimpose the world of Pokémon over the real world. Players see wild Pokémon appear on their screens in real-world environments. For example, if you were playing the game and had your mobile phone pointed at the office bathroom, you might see a wild Pikachu appear. Players hunt and capture these Pokémon.
Pokémon Go also utilizes Pokéstops, areas where players go to collect items. In addition, the game uses ‘gyms’, locations where players use their Pokémon to battle each other. The game might be dangerous, because Pokéstops and Pokémon gyms are real locations. For example, the game lists The White House fountain as a gym where players can fight each other.
Transportation officials across the country have expressed concern that Pokémon Go players will play the game while driving or walking. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has even issued a customized message about the game, telling players “don’t Pokémon Go and Drive”. Our neighbors in Texas have also released a series of warnings. The Texas Department of Transportation warned players not to stop traffic while hunting Pokémon and not to cross the street while playing the game.
Safety and transportation officials are concerned Pokémon Go players will be unaware of their surroundings while collecting Pokémon. This could possibly lead to an increase in pedestrian and distracted driving accidents.
Gotta Catch ‘Em All? Just Don’t End Up in the Hospital
If you plan to play Pokémon Go, there are ways to improve your personal safety. Obviously, you should never play Pokémon Go while driving or walking near busy streets. In addition, there are reports of players trespassing on private property while hunting Pokémon. Some properties may have safety hazards.
The best way to stay safe while playing is to use common sense. While playing, you should remain aware of your surroundings at all times.