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Costly Damages Traced to Reckless Gamers Doing Good Thing Badly

A study released by researchers at Purdue University recently traced millions of damages to users behaving recklessly in their attempts to play the massively popular mobile video game Pokémon Go. Pokémon Go is the biggest in a growing trend of mobile games featuring a technology known as "augmented reality" (abbreviated as "AR"), where computer-generated images are rendered over a mobile phone camera display that captures the user's immediate surroundings in real time.

Unlike traditional video games that are played on a console or PC, Pokémon Go players are encouraged to venture out into their neighborhoods to collaborate with others, staging virtual battles and collecting valuable in-game resources known as "pokeballs." AR titles help to alleviate two common ills that often plague avid video gamers—social isolation and a sedentary lifestyle.

Which makes it all the more frustrating that so many gamers have been routinely cheating the system with actions that violate the game's core mechanic. Instead of walking to and from "gyms" (the virtual arenas where battles take place) for battle, and collecting their pokeballs from pokestops on foot, Purdue economists Mara Faccio and John McConnell discovered evidence that users were driving while playing the game, and causing damages and injuries along the way.

After combing through accident reports from Tippecanoe County, Indiana during the first 148 days of the game's release, Faccio and McConnell discovered 286 additional crashes compared to the previous year. Estimate totals of injury and property damage ranged from $5.2 million to $25.5 million. If those trends were consistent nationally, it would scale up to between two and seven billion dollars lost.

For many of these gamers, the cardiovascular or social benefits of playing a game designed to get you out and about were overshadowed by potentially fatal car accidents. Their desire to win blinded them to what should be an obvious danger.

Potential Preaching Angles: Pursuing God for the right reasons, sacrificing competition for community, looking out for others as more important than ourselves.

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