Pokemon Go: Personal Injuries & Game Addictions

by Terry Bryant

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Many people currently playing the smartphone free-to-play app “Pokémon Go” are finding it wildly addictive. In fact, media reports indicate that some are even endangering themselves and others by playing the game as they drive or walk through both rural and urban areas.

Here’s a brief look at some of the recent injuries people have incurred while playing this cell phone game, and why certain individuals are willing to risk their own lives (and those of others) just to play Pokémon Go.

Some of the goals people pursue while playing this game

Fantasy game fans enjoy Pokémon Go because it lets them chase various creatures in their own environments and capture them. Some users go to great links to “capture” or locate “Eevee” and other Pokémon characters, while also searching for game tokens or conducting gym battles. Due to the game’s inherent distractions, the state of Washington’s Department of Transportation has now issued a warning, telling all drivers to avoid searching for Pokémon characters while behind the wheels of their cars.

Recent accidents, injuries, and crimes tied to the careless use of Pokémon Go

  • Falling off a cliff while playing the game. Sadly, two young men in their early 20s managed to do this in mid-July 2016 in Encinitas, California. Both of them fell between 50 to 90 feet. The full extent of their injuries is still not known;
  • Creating a clever “lure” at a Pokestop. Eleven Missouri kids between the ages of 16 and 18 were set up in this way. Eager to locate Pokémon creatures and tokens, they wound up being robbed of all of their possessions. Always remember that even criminals know how to play this game;
  • Wandering into forbidden areas. Some Pokémon Go fans are unwittingly trespassing on both government and private property while playing the game. One of these people even discovered a dead body while she was walking alongside a creek bed;
  • Causing auto and pedestrian accidents by failing to watch the road ahead. According to the Texas Department of Transportation’s “Talk, Text, Crash” website, about thirty-eight percent (38%) of Texans now readily admit that they often talk on their phones while driving. Furthermore, an astonishing one-fifth (21.2 percent) of motorists admit that they read and send text messages while driving. When you add cell phone game apps like Pokémon Go to this volatile mix – you have a potential public safety disaster on your hands. USA Today reports that one young man in Auburn, New York recently learned this the hard way when he crashed his car into a tree while playing the game.

We all have a duty to control our addictive behaviors fully to avoid harming other people

Just as too many Americans keep drinking while driving – others are now battling addictive game behaviors as they cruise down streets and highways. We may soon see news headlines about adults playing Pokémon Go on their phones — shortly before causing crippling or fatal injuries to others.

You may have mental health problems if you’re giving in to addictive game behaviors

Just before the last Diagnostic Statistical Manual (the DSM-V) was published, the psychiatrists and other mental health professionals who drafted and edited it stopped short of including “gaming disorder” as a formal diagnosis. However, they did reference it (according to the dsm5.org website) as a condition that warrants more clinical research. Games like Pokémon Go seem to be too big a match for many people’s proper exercise of self-control.  Perhaps this type of “gaming disorder” will be included in the future DSM manuals as a mental health disorder. After all, many people claim they undergo withdrawal when they try to stop playing this type of game.

Conclusions

We all need to embrace the real world every single day – and only use our phones for playing games while carefully seated at home. No further Pokémon Go injuries should be tolerated, especially those inflicted by those carelessly driving while playing the game. It’s possible that more cities will begin ticketing those who “text while walking” like Fort Lee, New Jersey. Even greater penalties should be passed for playing cell phone games while driving.