By now we all know about the app that’s broken the iTunes record for more downloads in its first week than any other app in history. In fact, we may even be responsible for the Lure Module outside our firm. As a millennial myself, I don’t feel guilty admitting that I’ve helped contribute to the unprecedented worldwide success of this nostalgia product. I’ve taken my dogs on longer walks as I’ve followed the tiny animal footprints to track down my personal favorite — Oddish.
In case you haven’t scrolled through Facebook or Twitter, or even read the newspaper in a few weeks, and you aren’t familiar with Pokémon Go, let me provide you with a brief synopsis. Pokémon Go is a free-to-play location-based augmented reality app/game created by Niantic. It uses your smartphone’s GPS to combine real historical markers and other places of interest with virtual characters with the goal of catching, training, and battling to become the next Pokémon Master.
Given the tremendous popularity of Pokémon Go, it comes as no surprise that the media is inundated with reports of countless civil and criminal incidents that have been tied to the game. Understandably, this has prompted discussions akin to issue spotting for the bar exam amongst millennial JDs. As for torts, there’s the issue of negligence on part of both drivers and pedestrians involved in motor vehicle accidents.
On the other hand, there’s the issue of establishing Niantic’s liability for claims by those inadvertently harmed by players’ actions. There have been issues of trespass, premises liability, and attractive nuisance. Moving on to contracts, there’s the enforceability of the opt-out arbitration provision, and the voidability of minority consent to its terms of service, among others.
There is also the potential for intellectual property suits brought by players and Niantic. And of course, there are privacy issues surrounding the collection and use of personal data, including sharing information with third parties.
Despite safety concerns and complaints from curmudgeons over the Pokémon Go craze, I’m still a supporter. The anecdotal evidence on the positive impacts of the game cannot be ignored.
I recently read a heartwarming news story about trainers in Indiana walking shelter dogs while out capturing Pokémon. A blogger wrote about how the game has encouraged her to overcome some of the anxiety and social skill deficits she has as someone on the autism spectrum.
The Pokémon Go spinoff dating app promises to match players to help them find their perfect Ash or Misty. And the physical activity, exposure to the outdoors, and social interaction that result from the game undoubtedly contribute to positive effects on physical and mental health.
As a millennial, playing the game is a welcome distraction to today’s divisive political climate. As a lawyer, I’m not saying I’m going to start dropping my business cards around local PokéStops, but I will say I proudly caught a Jigglypuff near my firm. In my opinion, Pokémon Go has ultimately left its mark because of its ability to unite its players in a more genuine way than any other app.
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with Niantic, the Pokémon Company, or any of their subsidiaries or affiliates.