In a step that is being condemned by the fans across the globe, the Chinese government has banned the popular augmented reality (AR) Pokemon GO, that took the world by a storm as soon as it was released in July last year. The reasons that the officials have cited are simple– it is a threat to the geographical information security and to the personal safety.
Even though their concerns seem genuine, fans and fanatics are interpreting the ban as ‘China’s penchant for banning things’.
It’s true that China is like a walled garden that is conservative and illiberal in the ways it conducts its routine affairs. Even so, aren’t we being biased in criticising the country for banning a game that has added a degree of entropy to an already chaotic world.
Let’s take a look at the facts.
A 28-year-old driver crashed into a tree on July 12, 2016, while playing Pokemon GO. In the same month, a Mumbai-based man bumped his Mercedes into an autorickshaw while playing the game.
Almost a month later, a white Honda sedan crashed into a railing in Queenstown, Singapore. According to the local media, the lone driver lost control of his car while trying to overtake a stationary car, passengers of which were playing Pokemon GO. In the same month, a woman died and another was severely injured when a car mowed into the two women while they were crossing the street in Tokyo. The driver was playing Pokemon GO instead of focusing on the road.
Yet another incident was reported in October last year in Aichi, Japan where a truck driver accidentally killed an elementary school student while playing the AR game. A shocking study further reaffirmed the damage caused due to the game. According to the study by a California-based researcher, the game caused over 110,000 accidents in a span of just 10 days in the United States. Similar cases have been reported across the globe since the game hit the market.
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While the fans argue that the game has increased the level of physical activity among teenagers and adults, the fact that the game has also increased the number of accidents significantly cannot be ignored. The game involves players hunting for Pokemon in real time, which can be found anywhere from roadsides to local cafes to even homes of people. With the players barging in the cafes and home just to catch a Pokemon, the game has created a nuisance that is hard to ignore.
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While I love the show, I hate the fact that something so sweet can become so repulsive owing to the damage it is causing. Trespassing private area, loss of life, accidents involving serious injuries– are the things that cannot go together with the joy associated with playing a game. The essential purpose of any game is to provide entertainment and a means of relaxation from our hectic routines. However, in this case, the game is doing just the opposite.
China has taken a proactive step by inhibiting the damage before the trail even begins. The point is, when will the rest of the world wake up?