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Pokèmon GO – Gotta Catch ‘Em All (Safely)

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Last week the newest incarnation of the popular game series Pokèmon was released in the US and within hours had made its way overseas to the UK. Despite not being officially out in the UK the mobile game has found its way onto tens of thousands of devices of those eager to try it out.

One of the reasons the game has created a stir is the lengths some players have gone through to catch rare examples or claim in game landmarks for their faction. With integration of Google maps using phone GPS systems, the game has already been involved in a number of incidents from players falling and injuring themselves.

Eyes in front

Within days of launch the daily user figures show it has already overtaken Tinder and is very close to overtaking Twitter. While this news is fantastic for the game’s developer, it has prompted a few safety concerns from local authorities as early reports of injuries in relation to the game have begun to surface.

Reports of people “crossing roads without looking” are among the many pitfalls of being glued to the game which uses GPS to randomly generate the collectable creatures close to a player as they walk around. The main safety fears arising are linked to distractions from focussing solely on the game.

Mobile phones & music players

Over the years road safety messages have always remained the same; when around roads, be alert. Films regarding distractions including phones, headphones and other people (see below) all echo the same message to avoid being distracted.

Sometimes the message is aimed at a particular age group or type of person but with mainstream mobile gaming taking off including the likes of Pokèmon GO, Clash of Clans, Bejewelled and Angry Birds, the opportunity to game on the move (and become distracted) has heightened significantly. This applies to both those on foot and behind the wheel. Drivers should already know not to play while driving but it doesn’t seem to be stopping the most determined of players scanning their surroundings as they travel.

Have fun but stay alert

The take home as with any other use of mobile technology including MP3 players, mobile phones, tablets and handheld gaming devices is to enjoy your experience but be aware of your environment. GPS technology and Augmented Reality (AR) are becoming mainstream aspects of mobile gaming and with it comes added risk when used in public.

While the new Pokèmon Go game has introduced a fun new way to play games, it also helps educate developers on controlling how much freedom randomly generated AR should have. Take a look below to see some of the questionable locations and experiences people have had with the game and its users.

It is no doubt handheld gaming has definitely entered the mainstream and is here to stay. The next obstacle is to ensure all games and apps promote safe usage by all. Pokèmon Go has proven a worldwide hit and hopefully with a few patches from developers, accidents from using the GPS technology can be limited.

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