Public Law

Public Law Journal: Summer 2016, Vol. 39, No. 3

Squirtles and Pidgeys and Eevees, Oh My!: Pokémon Go, Augmented Reality Games and Public Property

By David H. King*


The real world can be fairly nerve-wracking for public attorneys and their clients. Public attorneys worry about a variety of potential threats and liabilities, ranging from "slip and falls" on a public sidewalk to law enforcement use-of-force events. But in July 2016, the companies Niantic and Nintendo added a new dimension to the "real world" by introducing an augmented reality game called "Pokémon Go." The game has since become a worldwide phenomenon with over 500 million downloads.1 A variety of unexpected impacts have been associated with the game, some of which may affect public agencies.

This article is intended to be a resource for public attorneys who may face situations arising from playing the game on public property. Therefore, this article will provide a brief description of the game and highlight at least one legislative response to it. In addition, because the game is drawing large crowds of distracted players onto public property, this article will also summarize legal principles associated with public property liability.

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