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Tech Times | Success of 'Pokemon Go' begs question: How augmented should reality be?

Published:Monday | August 1, 2016 | 8:00 AM
Pokemon Go

LOS ANGELES (TNS):

The magic of 'Pokemon Go' is in the way it overlays the Pokemon world atop the real world. Step outside and you'll spot cartoonish creatures to capture. Head to a place where people congregate - say a park or a bus stop - and you'll battle other players or encounter the rarest beasts.

In the two weeks since the app's launch, random locations have essentially become arcades for the mobile gaming set - attracting crowds of phone-toting players at all hours.

That's a problem for the University of California at Irvine Medical Center, which is the unenthusiastic host of five Pokemon hubs - dubbed gyms and Pokestops - across its campus.

"What we're trying to do is discourage people who don't have a legitimate reason to be at the hospital (from coming) here looking for Pokemon," hospital spokesman John Murray said.

The hospital wants out of the app - and it's not alone. Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, DC, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland have asked visitors to stop playing out of respect. Funeral homes sought an exclusion from the game as the blog 'Pokemon at Funerals' shared images of people playing at services.

Such conflicts have raised pressing questions about games and other products that blend the real world and the digital world using a technology called augmented reality.

Niantic launched the app without giving locations the ability to opt out. That hasn't stopped many establishments, including UC Irvine Medical Center, from contacting the company asking to be left out. (UC Irvine Medical Center says it has not heard back from Niantic, and Niantic declined to comment for this story).