Pokemon Go may be fun – even useful for exercise –but players must not lose sight of reality
Monster hit has attracted millions of gamers but in their chase for the likes of Pikachu, they should not inconvenience others
Gamers have found their legs with Pokemon Go, the mobile sensation that is taking players to all parts of Hong Kong. Its clever use of technology combined with a fondness for the Japanese pocket monster characters has players wandering the streets day and night, their eyes glued to their phones. But too often their race to catch and do battle with the virtual creatures is disrupting city life, even threatening safety and essential services. The rules of society require that commonsense, good manners and proper conduct go before all else.
Pokemon Go uses Google maps technology to overlay a virtual world on real-life surroundings. Important or significant sites have been designated by the developer, Niantic, as locations for players to collect bonuses or do battle with one another. Parks are common spots, but unthinkingly, hospitals, fire and police stations and government offices have often also been chosen. That has sometimes led to invasions of gamers into unwelcome places, where routines and work are disturbed.
Requests can be made to Niantic to have locations removed from the game. Given the trouble caused in public and sensitive places, the company has to act promptly. But the onus is above all else on players, who have to be mindful of those around them and where they go. There have been too many collisions with fellow pedestrians as they focus intently on their screens and unannounced crowds are preventing people from going about their business.
The game is obviously not welcomed by employers. There are concerns that it is getting in the way of family matters and taking up time that could be used more constructively. Warnings have been issued that personal privacy and safety could be compromised, so care has to be taken when playing. Of Pokemon Go’s benefits in getting people to go to places they would not otherwise venture to and in doing so, offer them exercise, there is no question. But as they activate the app to play yet again, their priority has to be the real world.