Pokémon Go is all the rage right now. Everyone from your kids to your boss is playing the augmented reality game. The intent of the game is to encourage users to get up, get out and explore. Although the basic premise doesn’t increase your public entity’s liability per se, the game creates an increased exposure to risk including physical risks to actual life and limb. The full attention of an enthusiastic player likely takes precedence to the exclusion of all else.
Pokémon Go uses the GPS capabilities of a smartphone or tablet in conjunction with Google Maps to “place” creatures in real world locations, which you then try to find them using your device as a guide. Once you are in proximity to the “placed” creature, you then use your device’s camera to “view” the creature and try to “capture” it.
Because Pokémon Go uses Google Maps, it is very likely that many Pokémon characters are available for catching in many of your public areas including your community parks, recreation centers, and even law enforcement facilities. With the fanatical buzz surrounding this game already, now is a good time to familiarize yourself and employees of the risks that come with playing Pokémon Go.
What makes game players a liability?
- Hazards that are not properly marked, in combination with a surge in foot traffic, could increase the potential for injury on site.
- Game play at unsafe hours i.e. dark, after curfew, in forbidden areas.
- Locations that may not be open to the public does not stop game players from attempting to enter in order to catch Pokémon.
Things to consider:
- Will Pokémon Go users disrupt employees or operations?
- Is there a landmark within your public entity where it may be disrespectful to invite users of the game to play?
- Are there hazards that may be unsafe?
- Holes in the ground.
- Broken equipment.
- Tree branches or rocks jutting out into pathways.
How to remove your location from the game:
- You can request a location to be removed from the game by submitting a request on Niantic’s support site for Pokémon Go.
- Another option is to make an appeal on a Google page specific to the Pokémon Go game.
NOTE: There is no guarantee these solutions will result in a location removal.
If you answered yes to one of the above questions, it may be wise to post a bulletin notifying the public that Pokémon Go game play is not allowed on the property. Although, it is unenforceable, posting signage stating game play is not allowed may simply keep foot traffic reduced.
If the answer to all of the above questions was no, and allowing or promoting Pokémon Go game play is something you want to proceed with, keep in mind that your public entity should still take precautions to minimize injuries or accidents. It is important to note, that just because you may see an increase in foot traffic, your insurance coverage needs no alteration. And, be mindful that, unfortunately, even if you do not promote the game, game users could still likely find their way on site. Thus, no matter what your public entity’s position, it is critical to take precautionary steps in order to promote the safety of both your employees and Pokémon Go players.
Here are some examples of public entities addressing Pokémon Go:
Click on each photo to enlarge.
To learn more about the game visit, Pokémon Go.