When the first Pokémon games came out in the U.S. in the 1990s for Nintendo Gameboy, many people jumped on the bandwagon and bought the games for their kids. In a world of violent games, one of the saving graces of the game was that characters didn’t actually die. If they lost a battle they simply fainted and went back to the hospital until they healed and could go out again.
The goal was to navigate a human character and his Pokémon sidekick through the videogame world and win battles in order to catch and collect the Pokémon. Kids weren’t the only ones who were enthralled. Plenty of adults were enthralled as well. Over the years, various updates have been added to the game. Young adults who were kids in the 90s could often be found still playing some version of the original game.
Then in 2016, Nianatic developers introduced something that brought a whole new dimension to the game. Many of those 90s kids, and others are eating it up, as well as a new generation of kids. It’s called Pokemon Go, and it puts the game and those cute little monsters out into the real world among the fresh air. It doesn’t require that players (or their parents) purchase expensive portable gaming systems. It’s played with an app that is downloaded on the player’s smartphone and the animated monsters are superimposed into the real world via the player’s cell phone camera. But while players see opportunities to find Pokemon in the “real world” and get exercise, there are also very real safety concerns.
Awareness (or lack of awareness) of surroundings
Pokemon Go’s loading screen reminds users to “stay aware of their surroundings” there have already been many injuries related to the game. These range in severity from a clumsy trip to walking off of cliffs.
Players of the game have also found themselves more vulnerable to crime, and some have been victims of crimes, including being shot and robbed while in the middle of a Pokemon hunt. The developers themselves saw enough potential for lawsuits to insert into the terms of service a clause that gets the gamer to agree to be open to settling any personal injury cases through binding arbitration rather than a long drawn out lawsuit.
What about non-players?
While game developers have attempted to cover their legal bases as much as possible by issuing warnings and forcing promises just to gain access, non-gamers have not made any such promises. Despite warnings, people have not only gotten hurt playing Pokemon Go, but they have hurt others. Not only have people walked off into places where they don’t belong while playing, some have even tried to catch Pokemon while driving and innocent bystanders have “caught” serious injuries and years of pain and suffering.
Whether you play Pokemon Go or not, it’s important to be aware that there is one more distraction out there that can potentially get you hurt. And if you are injured, it makes sense to talk with an attorney to discuss your legal options.