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Margaret McCartney: Game on for Pokémon Go

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: (Published 09 August 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i4306

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Re: Margaret McCartney: Game on for Pokémon Go

We read with great interest McCartney’s article on Pokémon GO. [1] however, we have one major concern about the public health issue, such as in Ayers et al’s report [2] about the negative impact of Pokémon GO – a new distraction for drivers and pedestrians. In fact, Pokémon GO has become a global phenomenon. It is one of the most popular apps developed by Niantic, a location-based augmented reality game, where players use a mobile device's Global Positioning System (GPS) to locate, capture, battle, and train the virtual creatures (Pokémon). Besides promoting physical activity, it raises concern about accidents and being a public nuisance. [2,3]

Therefore, an acronym POKEMON was proposed to help memorize the possible symptoms of the game players. The acronym has seven components:

(1) Park anywhere - players like to gather in parks and, sometimes, they park their cars anywhere just to capture the Pokémons;
(2) Outdoor activities - this game really encourages outdoor activities;
(3) Knock on door - players will knock on other people’s doors to gain permission to capture the Pokémons appearing inside, sometimes resulting in trespassing. Sometimes, players also carelessly knock down people while they are walking with their eyes trained on their mobile devices;
(4) Engaged - players are engaged and sometimes addicted to this game, which will then affect their eyesight;
(5) Mass zombies - players often walk slowly in groups, with their eyes staring at their mobile devices, which looks like a mass of zombies;
(6) Overlook danger - players often overlook the danger ahead, causing accidents; and
(7) Neck pain/Nocturnal activity - nuchal pain may develop with prolonged neck flexion while playing the game, and players also like to come out at night to hunt for the creatures (table 1).

We hope this easy to remember acronym will help to raise the awareness of physicians and parents about the potential benefits and risks of this new popular game.

1. McCartney M. Margaret McCartney: Game on for Pokémon Go. BMJ. 2016 Aug 9;354:i4306.
2. Ayers JW, Leas EC, Dredze M, Allem JP, Grabowski JG, Hill L. Pokémon GO - a new distraction for drivers and pedestrians. JAMA Intern Med. 2016 Sep 16. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.6274. [Epub ahead of print]
3. Serino M, Cordrey K, McLaughlin L, Milanaik RL. Pokémon Go and augmented virtual reality games: a cautionary commentary for parents and pediatricians. Curr Opin Pediatr 2016 28(5):673-7.

Competing interests: No competing interests

29 September 2016
Tan Che-Kim
Attending physician
Chi Mei Medical Center
No.901, Zhonghua Rd., Yongkang Dist., Tainan City 710, Taiwan