With the creation of “augmented reality games” like the wildly popular Pokémon GO, attorneys will be considering the possible legal issues that may arise.
Augmented reality games involve live direct or indirect views of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. In the case of Pokémon GO, fictional creatures are projected onto a mobile device’s camera through the game’s app.
With all new technology comes new questions for lawyers to consider. The possibilities are endless, but the American Bar Association has tried to outline what other attorneys are thinking.
For players, there is the danger of wandering through the world while distracted by their mobile device. These augmented reality games may lead to conflict and complications between players and non-players enjoying public and private spaces, which may lead to violent confrontations.
For government, law already exists prohibiting distracted driving with mobile devices – it is not much of a stretch to contemplate laws restricting mobile device usage while crossing streets in pursuit of your next Pokémon. As public spaces become a game board, local government may want to consider limiting or apportioning spaces for play, which could lead to First Amendment challenges.
For businesses, owners may wish to consider whether it will cater to these gaming crowds. For example, bars, restaurants and other retail locations will have to weigh the potential business benefits of welcoming gamers to their establishments with the legal complications that may arise.
For other property owners, these games may mean an increased possibility for over-zealous gamers trespassing on their properties. Vacant land and other attractive nuisances may be secured with sufficient warning to everyone, or may result in exposure to liability.
As for the legalities within the Pokémon GO app itself, the terms of service disclaims liability for property damage, personal injury or death while playing the game. It also disclaims liability based on violation of any other applicable law. Pokémon GO also generally requires arbitration of disputes that may arise. We suspect challenges and we shall update the readers.