Crazy Pokemon Go Legal Issues, and the Three Points We Can Really Learn
Depending on who you talk to, July 4th was NOT the most important day in July this year. This is because July 6 was the release date for Niantic’s viral sensation Pokemon Go, and the world has not been the same since. Say what you will about the mobile based game that harnesses the power of GPS to allow players to make the world their playground, but the reality of the situation is that the mass appeal of the game stretches beyond millennials and has captivated a cross section of the populations that is as diverse as the characters themselves.
Unlike most app-driven games, Pokemon Go uses the player’s coordinates and mapping technology to create a location-based “augmented reality” gaming experience like any other. Unfortunately, despite the fact that a player’s reality is augmented, the real-world is most certainly carrying on around them and the game has been rife with oddball stories and legal situations almost from the beginning. Now that the a few months have passed since it release, it is high-time to reflect on just what we can learn from the legal predicaments facing many captivated by Pokemon Go.
A 24-year-old New Zealand man reportedly quit his job to pursue Pokémon full-time. At last count, he had accumulated 91 of 150 available Pokemon as he crisscrossed Australia—bear in mind this was only a few days after it release, so, with any luck, this gentleman may have possibly collected all 151 and may be enjoying his “retirement.”
In Georgia, a dedicated player followed her Pokemon (rumors suggest a “Squirtle”) into a graveyard only to find herself trapped inside. Unable to find her way back out, she contacted the police by dialing 911. The tapes are amusing, but the time wasted by authorities was significant.
In that the game is location-based the fictional characters in Pokemon Go are taking some players to challenging locales. Given the technology packed into most smartphones, in most circumstances, the little buggers will not draw their pursuers into overtly dangerous locales. Still, a warning appears at the beginning of the game telling players to be aware of their surroundings every time the app is opened. Still, a number of players have stepped into potentially dangerous situations, possibly raising liability questions.
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Ryan R Bradley is a civil litigator based in Champaign County Illinois focused on representing plaintiffs in a variety of cases form medical malpractice to automobile accidents.