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'Pokemon Go' launches Thanksgiving Day event. But will it be safe?

Posted November 24

The release of "Pokemon Go" brought with it an increase in accidents and medical costs. HealthSparq compiled data from their clients to show what an injury from Pokemon Go could cost. (Deseret Photo)

For Thanksgiving, "Pokemon Go" hopes you invite Pikachu to dinner.

The social mobile game announced this week that it'll have a special Thanksgiving day event, much like it did for Halloween, on which gamers can gain double the points for their Pokemon if they play on the holiday, according to Forbes.

The event begins at 12 a.m. on Nov. 23 and will end on Nov. 30.

Niantic, the creator of the game, said this will hopefully help foster the "Pokemon Go" community.

“It has been an incredible experience since we launched Pokémon GO a few short months ago in July," Niantic said in an announcement. "We are passionate about creating experiences that encourage exploration and promote exercise. We are humbled that hundreds of millions of you around the world have joined us on this journey. So we would like to say thank you – and what better way to say thank you than to celebrate our community."

Players who find candies and Stardust for their Pokemon, which allow the pocket monsters to grow and evolve, will get double the points than normal, according to Forbes.

"I would argue that candy is still definitely the more important currency in Pokémon GO as it’s what allows you to upgrade and evolve while 'ranking up' in GO using XP is still not terribly important after a certain point, but this should be an interesting event all the same," according to Forbes.

It'll be interesting to see if the special event will improve the game's sales. According to Forbes, the aforementioned Halloween event did make it the highest grossing app that week.

In general, "Pokemon Go" has received mixed reactions since it launced this summer. While the free app has sent its players to churches and helped gamers get outside and exercise, the game has also led to increased accidents and medical costs.

Earlier this year, HealthSparq, a company dedicated to helping people make good health care decisions, compiled the total treatment costs that its health plan clients in Washington, Utah, Idaho and Oregon paid for their injuries related to "Pokemon Go." The company compiled the data based on injury and state to compare health costs for different injuries across state borders.

Some of the most common injuries reported are tripping, car accidents, carpal tunnel syndrome or swiper's thumb, knee injuries and lacerations. A few people have even fallen off cliffs while playing the game.

"Some people see an accident as simply an accident," said Torben Nielsen, senior vice president of product and strategy at HealthSparq. "But would they change their behaviors if they knew how much a fall or car accident could cost them — simply by looking at potential medical bills?"

In Utah, carpal tunnel syndrome is the most expensive injury related to "Pokemon Go" to treat. The cost of treatment can be as high $5,291. The state also has the highest treatment cost of carpal tunnel syndrome compared to data HealthSparq compiled from the other three states.

Health care costs widely vary from state to state, according to HealthSparq. While it is expensive to treat carpal tunnel syndrome in Utah, the state also has the lowest average price for a doctor's office visit compared to Washington, Idaho and Oregon.

Nielsen hopes the data will inform people about the potential costs that come with not paying attention to the surrounding area.

"We're all distracted with technology, but maybe 'Pokemon Go' users will start to be a little more aware of their level of distraction when they understand how much a fall could cost," Nielsen said.

The company has also compiled a list of information and health care costs across the United States, not related to "Pokemon Go," to inform people about health issues and injuries.

Here is the data from HealthSparq:

Carpal Tunnel:

WA $3,540

UT $5,291

ID $4,000

OR $3,892

MRI Knee:

WA $890

UT $820

ID $1,140

OR $1,220

MRI Brain:

WA $1,380

UT $1,340

ID $1,930

OR $1,620

Laceration repair:

WA $1,600

UT $1,120

ID $1,440

OR $3,020

X-ray Knee:

WA $130

UT $70

ID $85

OR $80

Office visit:

WA $214

UT $170

ID $190

OR $265

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