It just got a little harder to “catch ‘em all” — at least in Milwaukee.
As laid out in a new ordinance, Milwaukee County now requires Pokémon Go and other “location-based augmented reality games” to get a permit to be played in Milwaukee parks.
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According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee County holds Niantic, the developer behind Pokémon GO, responsible for the damages caused by frantic pocket monster enthusiasts. They weren’t notified that Pokémon would appear in Lake Park and various other places around the city.
Mashable released videos and pictures from County officials that show huge crowds moving through the parks and neighborhoods. According to the County, these are the destructive Pokémon GO players, and their “running while holding phones aloft” body language seems to substantiate the claim.
Assuming the pictures are accurate, Milwaukee’s public grounds were completely trashed after these crowds were through with them. Players are accused of breaking multiple ordinances, including illegal disposal of waste, possession of alcohol, destruction of property, and cruelty to animals.
Pokémon Go players are notoriously careless when it comes to property. In addition to running roughshod over public spaces, some players have trespassed on private property. At least one person allegedly shot at a YouTuber when he crossed onto their land.
Milwaukee County isn’t penalizing Pokémon GO users, however. The Journal Sentinel notes that the ordinance will not restrict access to the parks.
Instead, the language of the ordinance targets the games and game-makers. The County is trying to keep Niantic from showing that a Pokémon is in a Milwaukee public park. There might not be any way for the city to enforce this ordinance, however.
In other words, they want to stop the land from being associated with a fictional thing. As VentureBeat points out, that might violate Niantic’s First Amendment right to freedom of expression. And we doubt that Milwaukee County wants to get into a legal battle with the company behind such a successful game.
While this may not do much to stem the tide of Pokémon GO players, it could act as a cautionary measure against future AR games. If this ordinance works as the county intends, it’s possible that other cities and counties around the world will follow suit.