Pokemon Go is still in the news － like the Energizer Bunny, it keeps going and going and going. This time, however, the news is a bit more serious than two California Senate candidates playing the game in the Mission District over the weekend.
A New Jersey man is suing the game makers － San Francisco-based Niantic, Nintendo, and The Pokemon Company － in San Francisco federal court for encouraging people to trespass on private property through the popular app-based game. And the kicker is he filed a class action lawsuit, which means he’s hoping others will join in his pursuit of justice over the tyranny of technology.
The class action part makes the entire thing much more interesting. It’s hard to miss the stories about Pokemon Go － even if they’re fake － but they’ve all been anecdotal at this point. Now that settlement money could be involved, the world might just find out the true level of annoying Pokemon Go has reached.
One of Pokemon Go’s most popular features is the sort of half-reality in which the game exists. As the Associated Press reported, “the location-aware game provides virtual rewards for players who visit real sites designated as ‘Pokestops’ in the game.” For Jeffrey Marder, the man behind the lawsuit, the problem is those Pokestops might include someone’s private property.
“Niantic blithely acknowledges its placement of Pokéstops on private property, advising users on the Pokémon Go website: ‘If you can’t get to the Pokéstop because it’s on private property, there will be more just around the corner, so don’t worry!’” according to Marder’s lawsuit.
That does sound rather intrusive, although we’re no judge or jury. But, as the AP noted, some prominent public places have encountered issues as well: “Several locations, such as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Japan and the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., have asked to be removed from ‘Pokemon Go.’”
Not surprisingly, all three companies behind Pokemon Go refused to comment on the lawsuit. But the AP reported last week that The Pokemon Company plans to update the game “so it remains fun for players but respects the real world.” That doesn’t sound like much fun.