I wasn’t that interested in this new “augmented reality” game at first, but once I heard it was dangerous, I had to try it.
Pokémon Go was released only a week ago, drawing millions of people into the streets of the world to hunt for digital beasts visible through the cameras on their phones. I couldn’t sleep this morning, and I got up and wandered around Park Slope before dawn, looking for beasts. The game alerted me to a community garden I’d never noticed, and it made me stop at the Old Stone House, the site of the largest battle of the American Revolutionary War. I would’ve had little other reason today to think of the fallen soldiers in the Battle of Brooklyn who signed our Declaration of Independence in blood.
But then my commute was studded with people playing Pokémon Go in crowded centers of transit. It’s easy to tell who’s playing. While everyone else was racing across Madison Square Park to work, a tall Starbucks in one hand, typing on their phones with the other, the city is now full of people standing serenely in the pathways, staring at their phones and making an idle upward flicking motion with their fingers. (With a tall Starbucks in the other hand.)
By every projection of the trend, the problem will get worse before it gets better. Public-safety agencies have already begun to raise concerns about augmented reality, as it’s being implemented at a scale never before seen. A segment on The Today Show warned “your safety could be at stake,” while MarketWatch is asking “Should You Let Your Kids Play Pokémon Go?”