Death by Pokémon Go? Researchers calculate the game’s unintended consequences

Pokemon Go
Pokemon Go photo by Pixabay.

11/21/2017 |

Capturing Pokémon in the wild, watching new characters hatch on top of high-rise buildings and competing in battle raids may seem like a harmless and inexpensive pastime, but new research from two professors in Purdue’s Krannert School of Management shows otherwise.

Analyzing detailed police accident reports for Tippecanoe County, Indiana, from March 2015, through November 2016, Mara Faccio, the Hanna Chair in Entrepreneurship and Professor of Finance, and John J. McConnell, the Burton D. Morgan Distinguished Chair of Private Enterprise (in Finance), discovered a disproportionate increase in automobile crashes, injuries and even fatalities near PokéStops starting July 6, 2016, when the augmented reality game debuted.

The researchers estimate the total incremental county-wide cost of users playing Pokémon GO while driving, including the value of the two incremental human lives lost, to range from $5.2 million to $25.5 million over the first 148 days after the game was introduced. Extrapolating those numbers on a national scale for the same time period, they estimate a total cost of $2 to $7.3 billion. Read more in their paper, “Death by Pokemon Go,” at http://bit.ly/2B9du48.