Augmented reality games are entertaining and intriguing because of the fact that they interact with the real world, but that also means that we should be prepared for some real-world consequences. A new study reveals that one of the most popular AR games ever–Pokemon Go–has contributed to a lot of car accidents and property damage.
The study was produced by researchers at Purdue University, who focused on police reports from Tippecanoe County, Indiana, to look at the effect the game had on driving behavior and accidents. The results were striking: controlling for a variety of different variables, the study finds that $500,000 in damage, 37 injuries, and 2 fatalities from car wrecks can be attributed to the Pokemon Go craze. Further reinforcing the evidence, the game’s effect weakened as time wore on and the userbase dwindled.
When the team scaled up the results to estimate the effect on the entire United States, it’s even more shocking. Although this data isn’t as good as the Tippecanoe County data–it is, after all, extrapolative–it’s nonetheless a decent estimate of what the effects have been. The researchers argue that the game helped cause an increase of over 140,000 accidents, 250 fatalities, and $2-7 billion in economic costs.
Whatever your thoughts on Pokemon Go, it can’t be denied that the game had a huge impact on society, at least for a few months. And, as we are discovering, its AR gameplay had some unfortunate consequences. After all, along with causing car accidents, the game has the distinction of also being utilized and exploited in Russia’s disinformation campaign.