Boy Killed By Pokémon GO Player



In my previous post I talked about a Japanese Pokémon GO player’s peculiar encounter with a member of the Yakuza. Today I’ll also be talking about a Pokemon GO related incident, except this time it’s a much sadder story.

Just about 3 weeks ago, on October 26th a truck driver in Aichi prefecture (central Japan) was playing Pokemon GO while driving. At the same time Keita Noritake, a 4th grade boy, was walking home from school. As the 4th grader was crossing the street the truck driver, who was too busy trying to catch Pokemon failed to notice the young boy and hit him. Two hours later the 9-year old boy was dead. When questioned by police, the truck driver admitted that he had been playing Pokemon GO while driving.

In recent weeks there have been many other stories about people playing Pokemon GO while driving. Just on November 10th a story broke about a Kyoto bus driver playing Pokemon GO while on the job. The 52-year old bus driver was found out after a person in an oncoming car noticed the driver had failed to use a signal when turning and called the bus company to report this. The company then reviewed the on board video recordings and saw that the driver had been playing Pokemon GO even while passengers were on board. This is actually the second case of a bus driver playing Pokemon GO while on the job. Thankfully, no one was actually injured in either case. However, all this has raised major concerns about Pokemon GO. Many people have been calling for either harsher punishments for people that play games like this while driving or for Niantic, the developer of Pokemon GO, to make it so people cannot play when moving above a certain speed. Currently, it is still possible to play Pokemon GO while driving but various notifications and disclaimers are present in the game that warn players against playing the game while driving. Of course, players can still choose to ignore these warnings and play at any time. Obviously, these warnings are not much consolation for people afraid this kind of thing might happen again and so this has caused people to demand action from Niantic. In response Niantic released this statement.

“We are still looking into the details of the incident. We will take any necessary steps following the completion of an investigation.”

I don’t know what the solution to this problem is. Yes, Pokemon GO’s popularity will decline in Japan, just like in the US, but eventually another game like Pokemon GO will be released and this will be a problem all over again. So perhaps something should be done. The death of this 9-year old boy is a tragedy and it would not have happened had the truck driver been paying attention. However, I also think that Niantic is not at fault. Despite that, should Niantic do something? Yes, perhaps they should. Even if it is just to cover their asses and keep bad publicity to a minimum. This problem reminds me of the whole video game ratings thing in the 90’s. Rather than having the government step in and regulate things, the video game companies offered to set up a video game ratings system. Maybe Niantic should learn from that whole fiasco and self-regulate in order to avoid forced regulation from the government. Anyway, as with many of these types of issues this won’t get resolved overnight. If anything new comes out of this, be it legislation or self-regulation I’ll be sure to post about it.
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