Milwaukee is still talking about Pokemon Go. And still trying to make it (and other games) pay for permits to take up virtual space in Milwaukee County Parks. Again.
Tuesday, in a Milwaukee County Board meeting of the Parks, Energy and Environment Committee, an ordinance was recommended for approval (again) requiring virtual and location-based augmented reality games to apply for permits in Milwaukee County Parks. The ordinance was directly inspired by last summer’s Pokemon Go/Lake Park controversy, which saw thousands of players flocking to, and causing damage to, the East Side park.
Calling last summer’s phenomenon “bedlam” and likening the crowds to a “drunken orgy,” members of the committee voted 4-1 to recommend the ordinance to the Milwaukee County Board. The ordinance was previously recommended to the board back in December; it was referred back to the parks committee weeks later. The latest County Board meeting will take place Thursday, February 2.
The ordinance reads as follows:
Virtual and location-based augmented reality games are not permitted in Milwaukee County Parks except in those areas designated with a permit for such use by the Director of the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Culture. Permits shall be required before any company may introduce a location-based augmented reality game into the Parks, effective January 1, 2017. The permitting application process is further described on DPRC’s website for companies that create and promote such games. That process shall include an internal review by the DPRC to determine the appropriateness of the application based on site selection, protection of rare flora and fauna, personal safety, and the intensity of game activities on park lands. Game activity shall only occur during standard park hours, unless otherwise authorized by the DPRC Director, who has the authority to designate special events and activities within the Parks outside of the standard operational hours.
Introduced by Supervisor Sheldon Wasserman, the proposed ordinance was once again described as a way to protect both the integrity of Milwaukee County Parks and the rights of gamers. Wasserman regaled the Committee with videos showing throngs of crowds surging through Lake Park last summer, along with slides of garbage, damaged grounds, and overflowing portable toilets. Though no dollar figures were attached to the proposed permits, it was revealed by Milwaukee County Deputy Corporation Counsel Colleen Foley that permits would be required for all augmented reality games, including those created by smaller companies and/or students.
Members of the community also spoke at the meeting, with nearly all of them coming out in favor of the resolution. Once again, trash, parking issues, lack of bathrooms, trampled landscapes, and trespassing were just a few of the problems mentioned. Only one community member, a Pokemon Go player, saw the ordinance as “over-regulation.”
A Poke-controversy was touched off this past summer when it was revealed that Milwaukee County Parks had written a letter to the developer of Pokemon Go, Niantic, Inc., asking for the removal of PokeStops from Lake Park. The park had become a hugely popular destination for Pokemon Go players, much to the chagrin—and sometimes outright hostility—of neighbors. The controversy came to a head in September in a boring, livid, and gloriously absurd meeting that found both sides of the issue at wit’s end. In October, a handful of Lake Park PokeStops were indeed removed.
As of press time, there was no word on whether Nintendo will create a Pokemon Go-like game for the Switch, which, come the fuck on, only has 32 GB of internal memory? Whatever. That Zelda game looks amazing.