In the two weeks since its release, Pokemon Go has already had 30 million downloads and generated 35 million dollars. It is already the biggest mobile game ever.
With that kind of rapid growth I think it’s pretty obvious that people aren’t just playing Pokemon Go on weekends and after work. The unprecedented popularity of Pokemon Go could not have grown so quickly if everyone, responsibly, put down their phones for 8 or 9 hours each day. Nope. The fact is, people are playing the game when they’re supposed to be working.
In case you’re not familiar with the game here’s a quick run down: Pokemon Go is a virtual scavenger hunt for the 151 different Pokemon characters. The difference between this video game and all others before it is that it brings the scavenger hunt to life with Google Maps. Players have to go to public places, i.e. leave their homes, to catch Pokemon. They go to places like landmarks, coffee shops, parks, and just about anywhere at all to catch these virtual characters.
Being glued to your phone in public has its consequences, though, as is starting to show up in the news. Glowing faced Pokemon players have driven into trees, walked off cliffs, and trespassed onto a nuclear power facility. They’ve been bumping into people and buildings and walking into traffic. Some people have been seriously injured playing the game and others have been robbed.
Aside from all the weird and scary stories surrounding the game in the last two weeks since its release, businesses are reporting that their employees are playing the game when they should be working. People want to catch Pokemon where ever they are and so they’re doing it at work and on their way to work.
Missing Work for Pokemon
Everyone knows that video games can be addictive but Pokemon is different. Since you catch Pokemon while on your travels it’s not as easy to put the game down and play when you get home. You actually have to play while you’re out. Pokemon is starting to interfere with work as you can see from some twitter posts I collected this morning.
Other Workplace Issues
Recording private surroundings
Beyond the problem of people playing the game while they’re supposed to be working, Pokemon Go could cause other workplace issues. The game records the surroundings as the player searches for Pokemon which could create privacy issues. Some areas of the workplace are, themselves, private, but employees could inadvertently be recording other sensitive data laying around the workplace.
Breech of data
Many employees have their work email setup on their phones and may have other apps with sensitive data. If an employee’s phone happened to get stolen while they’re wandering around downtown or in a park while playing, this could be a security concern for the company. Additionally, there might be malware in Pokemon guide and hack apps. And anyone downloading the app from unofficial sources – like people in countries where Pokemon Go is not offered yet – may end up installing malware.
Create a Company Policy
HR departments are going to have to scramble to devise company policies surrounding the game. Not only should employees not be playing games in general while at work but they need to know about these other issues. A company policy prohibiting photographing or recording in the workplace clearly should extend to playing Pokemon Go. Employees may not realize the implications with regard to sensitive data or malware. It is the job of the HR department to inform them.