The Student News Site of Taipei American School




Warning! Hazardous Pokemon ahead!


Trying to catch ‘em all on the streets? A Snorlax unexpectedly pops up next to you and the next thing you know, a massive human stampede tramples you and sends you to the hospital for a few broken bones. Trying to catch ‘em all while walking across the roads? A speeding car slams into you, sending you flying 20 feet before you land with a broken leg. Oh what tremendous fun!

Niantic’s Pokemon Go app(available for iPhone and Android) was extremely well received by the public, with over 100 million downloads within the first month of its release. Its real-world location program was creative but above all, Pokemon Go finally gave everyone a chance to do something that they had always dreamed of doing: catching Pokemon in real life. As the popularity of Pokemon Go soared in the coming months however, so did the question of public safety: what are the hazards of playing Pokemon Go?

The first thing that comes to my mind has to be the potential for accidents. A common saying that our parents or grandparents have directed at us when we were small children was: “Don’t play on the streets!” Pokemon Go players are susceptible to getting hit by speeding cars, walking into obstacles like street lights, or entering dangerous construction areas if they are not conscious of their surroundings. The potential consequences range from minor scratches to death itself, which is something all of us would like to avoid. Just search Pokemon Go accidents on Google and you will see a collection of incidents connected to Pokemon Go. Playing Pokemon Go, while being oblivious to one’s surrounding area, can harbor disastrous results.

Another potential problem that has appeared for Pokemon Go players is the threat of confrontations with others—be it an ambush by thieves or an argument for trespassing. While the number of cases of robbery using Pokemon Go is rare, it has happened over summer. Several robbers in Missouri used the “lure” item, an item which attracts more wild Pokemons to a Pokestop, in the game to draw victims into the Pokestop area. Although  the number of cases is small, it is still a problem that has yet to find a proper solution.

Trespassing has also become an issue during the last few months as people have complained about strangers trespassing on private property in an attempt to catch pokemon. The issue of trespassing reached its peak when several lawsuits were filed against the makers of Pokemon Go on the grounds that: “[Nintendo has] shown a flagrant disregard for the foreseeable consequences of populating the real world with virtual Pokemon without seeking the permission of property owners.” Pokemon Go offers no protection against external threats and the only logical way to help yourself is by remaining vigil and aware at all times.

These are not the only problems with the game, but they are arguably the biggest issues currently at hand.

There is no doubt that Pokemon Go is a creative and fun game, and Niantic has done a fantastic job luring people into playing this game. However, given the assortment of problems that have risen since the game’s release, it seems that Nintendo did not adequately think about the possible downfalls of the game’s augmented reality mechanics.

Sometimes, it just isn’t worth it to play Pokemon Go.

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