We've seen plenty of good, bad, and weird things that have come out of the worldwide augmented reality game Pokémon GO, including murder and location-based bans, but nothing on a large scale. That was, of course, until Iran decided to ban the game country-wide.
Iran's High Council of Virtual Spaces rendered the decision, vaguely citing security concerns as their reasoning. The BBC offers up a presumptive explanation:
A leading Saudi cleric said a fatwa (religious ruling) issued against an earlier Pokemon card game also applied to the new mixed-reality app. The 16-year-old edict said the game contained "forbidden images" and violated an Islamic ban on gambling. But a fatwa's influence might not carry beyond that particular scholar's territory, and is not necessarily applicable to the whole country.
Iran's not the only one banning users from playing. Last week, New York State banned app access to over 3,000 sex offenders, which seems a little more self-explanatory. Pokémon GO, with its many players, creates potentially dangerous situations. We've seen plenty of them and they continue to escalate. The game itself may not be the problem, but rather that we've rendered a broad virtual layer atop our world that we don't yet know how to regulate.
But banning augmented reality games likely isn't the answer, so hopefully other countries will find ways to address the issues created by them to help keep citizens safe without stopping the fun in the process.
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