Over the past several months, lawmakers in Illinois have been mulling over new legislation intended to protect sensitive areas from players of location-based games like Pokemon GO. Last week, the bill proposing the new rules failed to gain sufficient support in a House Judiciary-Civil Committee vote.
Had the bill been successful, developers of games like Pokemon GO would been forced to discontinue their usage of real-world locations that are ecologically sensitive, historically significant, private, or dangerous to visitors. If the developer took longer than four days to remove the location after being asked to do so, they would be subject to a fine of $100 per day.
The inspiration behind the bill came last summer, when Pokemon GO players flocked to a Pokestop at the Loyola Dunes Restoration Site. Hundreds of players apparently congregated there on a daily basis, which led to a marked increase in littering, vandalism, and other negative effects on the environment.
Pokemon GO developer Niantic was initially reticent to remove the Pokestop from the game. However, once the bill was submitted, the studio changed its tune, erasing the site within 24 hours.
Last month, six organizations representing the tech industry submitted a letter to legislators, explaining how these rules would restrict developers' ability to create and maintain quality services. The Illinois Environmental Council, which was in favor of the bill, claimed that lawmakers had been subject to pressure from Niantic.
The bill gained the nickname 'Pidgey's law,' in reference to one of the most common creatures that Pokemon GO players can capture. While it seems that the rules won't take effect, the proposal had its desired effect, in that the Loyola Dunes Restoration Site is no longer being swarmed with players.
However, other locations around the country are set to see an influx of Pokemon trainers as we head into the summer and Niantic unveils its much-hyped events scheduled to mark the app's one-year anniversary. It remains to be seen whether the game can recapture the momentum it enjoyed last year, but the imminent arrival of warmer weather is sure to prompt some players to give Pokemon GO another look.
Pokemon GO is available now for mobile devices.