While not officially available in South Africa yet, Pokemon Go has arrived in the country, and people are already playing this popular game. The need for players to be completely engaged with their screens, is, however, cause for concern, and the Automobile Association (AA) joins local and international road safety campaigners in calling for caution while playing.
VG247 (https://www.vg247.com/), a leading UK-based gaming blog, explains that Pokemon Go uses your mobile phone’s satellite GPS system, and built-in clock, to figure out where and when you are while the game is open.
“When you’ve got the game open, the game then populates the world around you with Pokemon. You end up looking at the world through your phone’s screen and camera, and the Pokemon are dropped on top of the real world in a semi-convincing way – this is augmented reality,” VG247 writes.
The effect of this is that many Pokemon Go players are glued to their screens, while walking or driving, concentrating on the screen instead of the road ahead.
“Reports are already coming in from other countries where people have been involved in crashes as Pokemon Go players have not been focussing on the road. There are also reports of road rage incidents involving this game. While we are not calling for anyone to not play the game, we want to urge anyone who is, to play responsibly, and be alert to the roads they are travelling on, whether by car, motorbike or on foot,” the AA said.
The AA said distracted driving, and walking, remains a problem in South Africa with too many people using their mobile devices while they should be concentrating on the core activity they are involved in.
“This is especially true for people who are walking. Statistics from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) show that up to 35 percent of all deaths on our roads are pedestrians. This is extremely worrying, and people who aren’t paying attention while walking and playing Pokemon Go are at risk of being part of this statistic,” the AA warned.
The AA offers the following suggestions to players:
Don’t play while driving, or while walking near traffic; Pay attention, and be vigilant, when you are playing. Distraction can cause injuries (even death), especially if you walk in traffic; If possible, take someone with you when you are playing as a second pair of eyes to watch out for possible dangers; Avoid playing Pokemon Go while boarding or alighting buses, trains or taxis; focus on the road and traffic and get to a safe place before playing
“We urge everyone to enjoy this, or any other gaming experience, but not to sacrifice their, or anyone else’s real life to catch a virtual character,” the AA concluded.