As great an impact Pokemon GO has had on businesses, people, and the general joy of gamers everywhere, it’s having a negative effect in many other areas. Two of the latest episodes are interesting, to say the least.z
Over in Russia, a man was arrested for playing Pokemon GO inside of a church. The arrest was made on the back of a law that forbids the abasement of human dignity (basically being “disrespeful”). The man seemed to be prodding a hungry horse in this case as he apparently acknowledged there was a chance for him to be arrested for the act.
Whether that law can and should apply to a man playing a game on his phone inside of a church is for Russia to decide, but the detainee (who is appealing all of this, of course) is looking at least 2 months of jail time for the incident, with final punishment for the crime being up to 5 years. Videos about the event are amassing millions of views on YouTube, so perhaps he considers it a worthy investment of his time.
But it’s in the US where things are getting really interesting, though. Des Moine, Washington apparently isn’t happy with the effect Pokemon GO is having on the city. Their complaints sound valid, with a committee looking to get the game banned citing the increased traffic in city areas as the cause.
The gathering of these mobile gamers is causing issues in popular places like marinas, where littering and loitering are at an all-time high. They’re also apparently disturbing the peace with excited chatter about the Pokemon they’re finding.
The committee voting on the issue passed an enactment to “ban” the game, though we’re not sure how all of this can work. After all, it’s not like Niantic is deploying anything in the physical realm to make this happen, and we’re not sure there’s legal basis for them to be forced to keep Des Moines out of the fun. Niantic could voluntarily respect the request, of course, and we’re reaching out to them to see if they’re leaning one way or the other.
Another course of action for the city to explore is enforcing the ban with police patrol, though this can only apply for public areas, and can police really stop someone for walking through these areas with their phones out? That’s unlikely, but disturbing the peace and littering could trigger them to take some action. For those in Des Moines — and any city. really — be careful about playing the game in a way that’s disruptive to your environment so you won’t end up like the kid in Russia.