The Pluses and Minuses of Mobile Gaming

Gaming is absorbing and fun, and research has shown that playing electronic games on a computer or an iPhone can sharpen your reflexes and increase your brain activity – that’s got to be good hasn’t it? Well, yes and no – mobile gaming is so absorbing, that people are getting injured because they are paying too much attention to their smartphones while they’re out and about, and they don’t notice where they are walking. They can unexpectedly step off pavements into the road, collide with fellow pedestrians, walk into cyclists and even under car wheels, and people have been seriously injured in collisions. This is nothing new – people have been ‘mobile walking’ as the phenomenon has been called, ever since mobile phones were invented, but the situation has got worse since probably the most absorbing mobile game of all – Pokémon Go – came to the UK.

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Endangering life and limb

There have been instances where people have been so carried away that they have trespassed on railway lines and put themselves in physical danger in the hunt for the next character. One group of individuals were reported to have got trapped in a tunnel system, because they were convinced there was a chance of catching a character. In other cases, people are complaining that their homes have been labelled as Pokémon Gyms or PokéStops, and their gardens and even their buildings are being invaded by seekers. One man was recently reported to have captured a character in the delivery room of a hospital while his wife was resting during labour. On a more serious front, there are reports that criminals may be using the app as a way lure people into dark and distant corners in order to attack or rob them – newspapers in particular are enjoying stories like these. Pokémon Go has been branded the ‘most dangerous game in the UK’, but they said that in turn about Clackers (you may need to be of a certain age to remember these wrist-breaking toys), in-line skates, Wii and Hoverboards, so that’s nothing new either.


On the positive side, Pokémon Go has at least persuaded some of the people who would normally stay in a darkened room playing their games, to get out and about to seek the elusive characters. Tourist destinations and places like churches and museums are making use of the game to entice people in, and it seems to be having a positive impact for them. I read recently about a young man with autism, who for years had refused to go out of the house, but to his mother’s delight, Pokémon Go had given him the impetus to get out and about – a very happy result indeed. People also report having unexpectedly made friends with other searchers and even with the owners of properties that are hosting the creatures.

So, the upshot is, keep an eye on your surroundings while you’re absorbed in your hunt, and try to avoid being run-over or mugged, and good luck with your next capture.

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