By David Swedelson, Partner at SwedelsonGottlieb, Community Association Attorneys
Have you noticed some unusual behavior from some association residents lately? You may have seen them walking outside swiping their smartphones. They may have a newfound interest in going to parks. And when they talk, they use unfamiliar words like Pikachu, Snorlax, and Pokéstops. If this sounds familiar, then your residents are into Pokémon GO.
I have heard about this new phenomena, but knew little about it. I saw an article entitled Back In The Race: The Employer’s Guide To Understanding (And Dealing With) Pokemon GO that was directed to law firms and decided to use it as the basis for this blog post as to how Pokemon GO would impact California community associations. (Follow this link to read the article)
According to the article, “Pokémon GO is a treasure hunt where people travel to various places in real life and use their smartphones to capture randomly placed critters known as Pokémon (short for Pocket Monsters). These critters are then used to battle other players’ Pokémon and take over Gyms placed in select real-life locations. Finally, in order to catch and take care of the Pokémon, they have to obtain items from Pokéstops that are also placed in various real-life locations.”
“Pokémon GO has been credited with helping normally sedentary people get out of the house and exercise. It has also helped shy people improve their social skills, as complete strangers collaborated to find and capture the rarer Pokémon in the area.”
But it has the potential to be a distraction and some people have reportedly gotten hurt walking into the street or off platforms, etc. “Pokémon GO is different from other online games like Candy Crush because employees may have to leave the office to play.” This is not a problem if your association “is located in a rural area or near residences with little to no Gyms and Pokéstops. In these areas, Pokémon only appear a few times during the day, and the ones that do appear are the common rats, snakes and pigeons that nobody wants after a day or two.” But if your association happens to be located near or is a popular Pokéstop “that spawns rare Pokémon, you may find that your residents are walking the common area on their smartphones responding to Pokémon spawns rather than paying attention to where they are going or walking.”
“While most people will play Pokémon GO responsibly and during appropriate times, some people will be addicted and will focus more on catching them all and will not pay attention to their surroundings.” So, if there are reports of people hurting themselves by walking into or off of things at the association, it may be because they were playing Pokemon GO.
So, now you know, if you did not already know, what this Pokemon GO phenomena is all about. And now I have to go as I still need to find some Pokéstops.
David Swedelson is a condo lawyer and HOA attorney and a respected expert in community association law. He can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org