Not everyone can be a Pokémon master. For some convicted sex offenders on parole, the popular Pokémon GO mobile game is officially — and legally — off limits.
On orders from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision is prohibiting all registered sex offenders on parole in the state from downloading or playing Pokémon GO and similar interactive internet and mobile games. The move is meant to protect children from sex offenders who might be using the game to prey on unsuspecting children, according to the New York Daily News.
"Protecting New York's children is priority number one and, as technology evolves, we must ensure these advances don't become new avenues for dangerous predators to prey on new victims," Cuomo said in a statement. "These actions will provide safeguards for the players of these augmented reality games and help take one more tool away from those seeking to do harm to our children."
Pokémon GO is an "augmented reality" game that uses your phone’s GPS and to position a player in an alternate reality that accurately corresponds to the real world (based on Google Maps data) but adds monsters from the Pokémon game franchise at various real world locations that players can see on their phones. The aim of the game is to explore the world and capture as many of the monsters as possible.
Cuomo and the State hope that Niantic Inc., the company responsible for the nostalgia-inducing game, will cooperate with the effort to keep the game safe for children.
"The State has taken action to prohibit sex offenders from using this game, but we need your assistance to make certain that sex offenders will not continue to use Pokémon GO by technologically barring their use," Cuomo wrote in the letter. "Working together, we can ensure that this danger today does not escalate into a tragedy tomorrow."
However, while the new directive will prevent sex offenders playing the game from tracking down children, it does not prevent another problem: the game's "Pokestops," meeting points for the players, and monsters appearing outside of the homes of registered sex offenders.
Pokémon GO has been problematic in other ways as well. There have been multiple reported incidents of criminals using the game to lure people to remote locations to rob them — players can use in-game items to attract the game's monsters, but other players can see when a player uses those items and will often come to take advantage. There have also multiple reports of people getting into car accidents as a result of playing the game or players playing in inappropriate on insensitive locations. Players were even searching for Pokémon in the Holocaust museum.