Wednesday, 10 August 2016

POKEMON GO: A dangerous game to play                                                        

There are probably thousands of computer games on the market that tantalizes everyone from small children to fully grown adults. The reason for this is that almost everyone loves a challenge and nowadays, the means of obtaining that challenge is within the grasp of our fingers.

I remember playing games in my computer when small figures would chase one another with nothing in the background. Nowadays, the games have fantastic backgrounds and can even be played at home on our wide television screens. The background music accompanying the games is orchestral that accompanies sounds of battles at sea, in the air, on the ground and even in space. 

I see small children, even my grandchildren playing games on their Smartphones.  I envision that sometime in this century, a push of a button will turn our family rooms into three-dimensional events in which those playing the games will in their minds, be fighting wars and/or terrorists.  However, this article is about one particular game—Pokemon GO.

The characters in Pokémon was first proposed by its creator, Satoshi Tajiri in 1991 where it took 6 years to develop and then in 1995 is when the game was first picked up by Nintendo and franchised. The very first Pokémon games, Pokémon Red and Pokémon Green were introduced in Japan on February 27, 1996.  It was developed strictly for small children. In 1998, it was available as a television show for kiddies.

To play, you fire up the game and then start trekking to prominent local landmarks such as historical monuments, parks, plazas, malls, etc. It is at these places where you can gather supplies such as Pokeballs. Those are what you fling at online “pocket monsters,” or Pokemon, to capture them for training. Apparently, the players are looking for monsters by searching for them on their smart phones. The game allows you to collect items such as visual eggs and more Pokeballs to capture more Pokemon GO digital monsters.

PokeStops are indicated on the map in your Smartphone with blue icons. When you're close enough to interact with the icon, it will change shape. Clicking on the icon will then allows you to swipe the Photo Disc, which will generate items in bubbles. Tap the bubbles to collect your items! You can also just exit the PokeStop once the items appear. They will be collected. After you've collected items from a PokeStop, the icon's color will change to purple, and you will not be able to collect items from it again until it refreshes to blue, which takes about five minutes. Conveniently, you don't need to travel away from the PokeStop for it to refresh, so if you live or work on a PokeStop you can often get items.

I am not going to go further into the manner as to how the game is played but I will say this. There has to be a more meaning full way for adults to pass the time of day. 

The danger of playing Pokemon GO

A lot of people who are addicted to playing Pokemon GO are grabbing their phones and running outside, then spending hours wandering around their city or town searching for PokeStops.

Players of Pokemon GO are glued to their Smartphone screens in search of digital monsters and as such, they are completely unaware as to where they are. Zubats and Paras have appeared on car dashboards. Pokestops have been locatewd at intersections and players are found walking into the middle of an intersection when the signal light is not in their favour. Police in Darwin, Australia, have even asked players not to waltz into their station, which of course is a Pokestop.

Mike Schultz, a 21-year-old communications graduate on Long Island, New York, took a spill on his skateboard as he stared at his phone while cruising for critters. He cut his hand on the sidewalk after hitting a big crack in the sidewalk.

Ankle injuries, mishaps with revolving doors and walking into trees have been among the painful results. A 22-year-old freelance web designer tripped on the sidewalk and twisted her ankle while wandering in downtown Waterville, Maine while staring at the screen of her Smart phone. One such player walked right into three-wheeled scooter of a disabled person while staring on the screen of his Smart phone. 

I sure hope motorists aren’t staring at their Smartphones while playing this game when they are driving their vehicles. At least the game has one failsafe — you can’t hatch digital eggs while driving. That requires slower in-person movement in the real world. Of course you can still search for PokeStops while driving a vehicle. And to do that, you have to constantly look at the screen of your Smart phone.

Lindsay Plunkett, a 23-year-old waitress in Asheville, North Carolina, made a point of parking six blocks away from the restaurant where she works, instead of the usual three— “Just so I could get some more PokeStops on the way,” she said. That could increase the danger to her being attacked by a mugger if she works in a crime-ridden neighbourhood especially if her eyes are on her Smart phone’s screen all the time.

She’s still nursing a bruised shin from the previous night, when she and her boyfriend spent hours wandering downtown in the rain searching for the Pokemon GO critters. She tripped over a cinder block that had been used as a doorstop at a local women’s museum.

The government of Bosnia issued a warning to players of Pokémon Go that the game could inadvertently lead people to undetonated land mines left over from the 1992 Bosnian War. While land mines aren't an issue for people in North America, players have been reported as walking into dangerous neighbourhoods and even spooky cemeteries at night. People have walked into walls, into oncoming cars, and even walked over cliffs. One player fell down a ditch only 30 minutes into downloading the game. He fractured a bone in his foot. Another player fell off his skateboard and injured himself.

 The “Pokemon GO” craze reportedly claimed its first fatal victim when an 18-year-old playing the game was ambushed in Guatemala. The teenager died after being shot, according to news reports. There have also been multiple reports of “Pokemon GO” players falling victim to robberies and assaults in different parts of the world.

Paying attention is something that all of us have to do when we are in motion. One day when my wife and I were walking on a street in Paris, we saw a man who wasn`t paying attention as to what he was doing and as a direct result, he walked right into a lamp post. While my wife was walking on that same street and looking at the man as he carelessly walked into a lamp post, she also walked into a lamp post.

It was only a matter of time when a motorist would be playing this game while driving his car.

A York police helicopter followed a driver on the early morning of August 8th driving erratically around the city of Vaughan, a community just north of Toronto. The helicopter followed the vehicle as it drove erratically, then stopped in a parking lot off of Keele Street. The motorist then started driving again, entering a residential neighbourhood where he stopped in front of a park. The car then started moving again making suspicious turns in the middle of the roadway. The vehicle was eventually stopped by police in the area of Saint Joan of Arc Avenue and Drummond Drive.

 Officers spoke with the driver who advised them that he was playing Pokemon and was just out to catch all the critters.
 The driver received a stern warning from officers on the potential dangers of driving while being distracted.
 Those officers were really stupid. It is against the law to use a cellphone while driving. They said that they didn’t actually see the driver using his cell phone and that is why he was charged with driving his vehicle while distracted. They didn’t have to see him using the phone. He admitted using it.  That admission would have been enough. Further, they could have charged the driver with careless driving.

Many years ago, I and a friend of mine saw a mugger robbing an old man on a street in Toronto. We followed the mugger but he kept running from us. I stepped into a building to call the police and my friend followed the mugger. The police met me and we searched for the mugger and my friend. We found my friend but the mugger wasn’t with him.  Apparently my friend spoke to a cop and told him what he saw the mugger do. The cop let the mugger go because he said he didn’t actually see the mugging. The next morning, the cop was ordered to appear before the chief of police. After chastising the cop, the stupid cop was assigned to patrol a cemetery alone during the midnight shift.

There is ab app called TisPY that can be used to stop children playing Pokemon GO. Once TiSPY is downloaded and registered to the child’s phone, the app sends monitored data to the TiSPY portal. Here, parents can live monitor their child’s phone usage and even control the child’s phone remotely. In effect, parents can use the live monitor feature of this system to stop their children from playing Pokemon GO.

I believe that as time moves on, this particular game will be used less and less. But until then, many people—perhaps many thousands of people will be injured and perhaps even killed while their attention is on the game and not where they are going.  

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