Car wrecks related to Pokémon Go are now being reported, among various other injuries caused by the inattention of Pokémon Go players. One driver in Auburn, Alabama crashed into a tree after he swerved off the road while admittedly being distracted while playing Pokémon Go. Others have walked into holes, crashed on their skateboards, and three teens were even robbed while using the app.
Pokémon Go is a game allowing smartphone and tablet users to catch Pokémon (Japanese cartoon characters whose translation means “pocket monster”) who live in the virtual reality of this game. Pokémon was invented in 1995 and first appeared on Game Boy. (The franchise also includes trading cards, a TV show, movies, and stuffed Pokémon characters). You, as a Pokémon Go player and “trainer,” must catch the Pokémon – but the Pokémon are everywhere and, in order to find them and ‘catch them all’ (Pokémon Go’s slogan) you have to explore the world around you. For example, near water you find water Pokémon creatures and near grass, grass Pokémon. They appear only in the Pokémon Go virtual reality. The more places you go, the more Pokémon there are to catch and collect.
However, Pokémon Go requires the player to explore the world with their eyes fixed to their smartphones waiting for the Pokémon to appear on screen. Distracted driving has long been an issue with the spread of cell phones, but it seems we haven’t yet seen such a craze as Pokémon Go. Others are upset at millennials appearing on their lawns catching Pokémon, or playing at places like funeral homes and cemeteries. (The game apparently features “ghost Pokémon” at these locations). The Holocaust Museum and Arlington National Cemetery have both asked visitors to stop playing Pokémon Go at their locations and have reportedly asked Nintendo to remove their locations as “Pokéstops” in the game. (A Pokéstop is an earmarked location using GPS coordinates where Pokémon will appear).