If you’ve been on social media any time in the last week or so, you’ve probably seen loads of posts from your friends about the hottest game on cell phones today. Pokemon Go has everyone with their eyes glued to their cell phone screens even more so than ever. The addiction hit fast and hit hard. And whenever something this massive hits, there are bound to be issues.
You may be curious as to how it works. It’s rather simple – you have to catch the Pokemon that are out in the wilds of your neighborhood. All you have to do is walk around and using your GPS signal, the game will alert you to any nearby Pokemon. Once captured, you can build and train them and then battle other players in locations called “gyms.” So as the slogan says, you have to catch them all in order to get the best team available. It also means you have to keep an eye on your phone at all times so you know where the little buggers are. It’s similar to another massive augmented reality game called Ingress where you have to capture portals that pop up in locations around town before the enemy can capture it.
Beyond the usual safety issues of people walking around without watching where they’re going and ruining relationships, there may be some legality issues as well. For instance, if you had created your game using your Google account, it requests full access to your account, an issue that game makers Niantic (a Google spinoff) are quick to point out is not true. There are also issues such as game bugs, servers breaking down, and not to mention your own cell phone bill that is tracking all the data you’re using.
And we haven’t even discussed the legality of AR games. For instance, in a recent blog post on the Hollywood Reporter website, attorney Brian D. Wassom questioned about the issues surrounding trespassing laws. If you’re on someone’s private property to capture a video game character, are you going to be arrested? Or what about loitering outside a private business?
According to Jersey City personal injury lawyer Anthony Carbone, this can set someone up with a lawsuit. For instance, let’s say a player is on your property illegally and has an accident, such as a slip and fall. According to premises liability law, the owner could be held responsible. And that’s not even discussing about issues with employees playing the game rather than doing their work. Oh yeah, Pokemon can be the downfall of many.
What Pokemon Go teaches us is that although going viral is something we all wish can happen, there is a problem of going viral too quickly. Did the game makers think about loitering and trespassing laws before setting the game out into the world? You need to cover all your bases before letting anything out on the internet and be prepared for the consequences. Because you never know what will catch on and explode in popularity.
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