Pokémon GO players may have caused traffic accidents that resulted in damages worth billions of dollars last year, according to a working paper appropriately titled Death by Pokémon GO.
There was massive hype surrounding the Pokémon GO launch in July 2016, as millions of players around the world signed up for the augmented reality mobile game. However, Pokémon GO also had a much darker side to it.
Pokémon GO Players Deal Damage In Real Life
Pokémon GO players, who capture Pokémon in the digital world and train them to deal as much damage as possible to their opponents, also dealt damage to the real world.
Mara Faccio and John McConnell, economists from Purdue University and the authors of Death by Pokémon GO, studied accident reports filed in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, over the first 148 days after the game was launched in July 2016. The researchers discovered that in the county, the total value from injuries and damages fell within a range of $5.2 million and $25.5 million, including, unfortunately, two lives lost.
The higher number of traffic accidents is not just a fluke. The researchers found that the number of crashes reported was higher near the game's Pokéstops and Gyms, as players drove to these locations instead of walking to them, increasing traffic activity. Worse, some played the game while behind the wheel. This meant that the increased number of accidents was directly connected to Pokémon GO.
The researchers then expanded the scale of the cost of the damages caused by Pokémon GO players in Tippecanoe County to cover the United States. The result was an estimate that the damage dealt to the whole country was $2 billion to $7.3 billion over the same period.
Pokémon GO: The Dark Side
Pokémon GO was a great game for fans of the franchise, but it also resulted into some dark times for players and people around them.
In addition to playing Pokémon GO while driving, players did dangerous things such as trespassing into private properties and entering dangerous areas.
Developer Niantic Labs tried rolling out Pokémon GO updates that would prevent drivers from playing the game while on the move. However, players have constantly looked for ways to bypass the Pokémon GO safety features.
Hopefully Niantic Labs learns from the traffic accidents and damages caused by Pokémon GO so that its next augmented reality game, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, will not place players and people around them in the same amount of danger.