Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Serious Suggestion for Niantic

Among the various developments related to Niantic's new Android/iOS "augmented reality" game Pokémon Go -- for example, armed robbers using "beacons" to lure victims -- I'm already hearing (for example on last night's episode of Free Talk Live) about people playing the game while driving.

Obviously, that's dangerous.

Just as obviously (anarchist here!), I don't recommend a legislative solution.

What I do recommend is that Niantic get an update into action ASAP which disincentivizes playing the game in a moving car (I doubt if they could get more specific than that to target driving only).

For example, the game could switch to a black screen, audio only mode when the location detection gizmo notices that the device the game is running on is moving at faster than some maximum speed. What speed? Well, I suppose there might be world-class marathon runners playing while running sub-five-minute miles (12 miles an hour or faster), but it doesn't seem likely (or safe to do while staring at a phone screen). Maybe a top speed of five miles an hour for more than a few seconds before the thing blacks out? The idea is to tell the user "there's absolutely no purpose in looking at your phone while driving a car, riding a bicycle, sprinting for more than 30 seconds, etc."

Presumably Niantic doesn't want a reputation for making games that kill their players, even if the stupidity is on the part of the players, not the games.

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