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AR games given protection under the First Amendment

pokemon go! AR Augmented Reality

A Wisconsin federal judge has ruled that Milwaukee flouted the US constitution in its response to the AR game craze started by Pokemon Go.

A row blew up in Milwaukee between city officials and the owner of an augmented reality game.

The city claimed that augmented reality game players were costing tens of thousands of dollars in law enforcement and park maintenance by trampling grass and flowers, and staying past park hours.  They demanded permits for all virtual and location-based AR games.  Companies were instructed to submit a ‘certificate of insurance’ for $1 million general liability cover (with the prospect of further fees) before their games could be played in public areas of the city.

Candy Lab AR, who make the AR game Texas Rope ‘Em sued.  The poker game entails players travelling to various local areas in order to build their card collections.

magikarp pokemon goMilwaukee challenged the lawsuit but US District Court judge Joseph Peter Stadtmueller, said that the game, along with others, qualify for Constitutional protection.

“The Ordinance treats game developers like Candy Lab as though they are trying hold an ‘event’ in a Milwaukee County park,” said Judge Stadtmueller. “However, this misunderstands the nature of the problem.  Requiring Candy Lab to secure insurance, portable restrooms, security, clean-up, and provide a timeline for an ‘event’ is incongruent with how Texas Rope ‘Em (or any other mobile game) is played.”

The judge listed various examples of location-based games, including Pokemon Go.  He said that the basic protections offered by the First Amendment don’t change purely because the entertainment medium does.

Image courtesy of Pokemon Go.

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