As if there wasn’t already enough on our smart phones to keep us tethered to our devices, the world now has Pokémon Go!
The augmented reality game released just last week by The Pokémon Company works in conjunction with Google Maps, creating a virtual environment you ought to be familiar with, but inhabited by the ultra popular fictitious creatures. A player signs up through their Google account, customizes their avatar’s physical attributes and attire, and then proceeds to “catch them all.”
Your rate of success in finding Pokémon increases as you walk around your surroundings. This has already proven to be both a benefit and a detriment to gameplay. The urge to find more creatures encourages players to move around, promoting a healthier lifestyle than games that keep you chained to a television. However, many players have already found themselves getting hurt as they disregard the hazards surrounding them, as they plant nose firmly into phone. To make matters worse, drivers are playing the game as they drive. Enough to have New York state Department of Motor Vehicles issue a statement Tuesday, July 12.
“This new, all-consuming Pokémon GO craze has caught the entire country by surprise and as such we are concerned about the consequences playing this game can have on public safety,” said DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner and GTSC Acting Chair Terri Egan. “Distracted driving is behavior we at DMV and GTSC speak out against all year long. What is meant to be a fun game can have tragic real-world consequences if you’re playing it while driving or crossing the street. Simply put, catching virtual creatures to get to the next level is not worth risking your life or the lives of others.”
New York State prohibits all drivers from using portable electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle. Illegal activity includes:
The application, developed by Niantic, Inc., is available for free on both Apple and Android devices, with in-app purchases available.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.