Cast your minds back to ye olden days of summer 2016. Suicide Squad was stinking up cinemas everywhere, Portugal were about to win Euro 2016, and we were still months away from a certain Home Alone 2 cast member taking the White House. Also, tonnes of folk were playing Pokémon GO... and apparently wrecking shit while doing so.
A new paper, aptly titled "Death by Pokemon GO", has been written by two economists at Purdue University, in the US state of Indiana. In it, Mara Faccio and John McConnell surmise the mobile sensation caused people to drive erratically while playing, leading to vehicle damage, injuries, and even fatalities.
Their findings are based on police accident reports they obtained for Tippecanoe County, Indiana, and even though the sample size is relatively small, they still claim the game caused somewhere in the region of between $5.2 million (£3.8m) to $25.5 million (£18.7m) in damages over a 148 day period.
Here's a brief introduction to the paper, as written by the pair:
Based on detailed police accident reports for Tippecanoe County, Indiana, and using the introduction of the virtual reality game Pokémon GO as a natural experiment, we document a disproportionate increase in vehicular crashes and associated vehicular damage, personal injuries, and fatalities in the vicinity of locations, called PokéStops, where users can play the game while driving. The results are robust to using points of play, called Gyms, that cannot be used to play the game while driving as a placebo. We 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 be in the range of $5.2 million to $25.5 million over only the 148 days following the introduction of the game. Extrapolation of these estimates to nation-wide levels yields a total ranging from $2 to $7.3 billion for the same period.
It's almost like people shouldn't have been driving while playing Pokémon GO.
You can download Faccio and McConnell's full paper here.