The location-based augmented reality mobile game gained global attention as people started catching Pokémon whilst doing, well, anything. Launched in early July, the game was initially released in the US and Australia, causing people elsewhere to lose their minds, so Niantic sped up the worldwide release. Available on both Android and IOS devices, everyone can get involved.
- Niantic basically stole the idea from Google
In 2004, Google created an April Fool’s Day game which let people catch Pokémon via Google Maps and Niantic realised they could create an app from the idea.
Within only a week of the launch date, Nintendo’s stock rapidly accelerated, upping the company’s market value by a massive $7.5 billion. It is understandable why people wanted in on the stock – in the US on iPhones alone the app was making $1.6 million per day. I hope the Google team at least got a gift basket as a thank you.
- Players met up with strangers
It was amazing. People with mental health problems started leaving the house more often. People walked miles searching for their favourite Pokémon and getting their eggs to hatch. And big gamer groups started meeting up around the world, discussing the game and mass-catching Pokémon. But meeting groups of strangers isn’t always a good idea. There are some dangerous people out there.
- Players were lured to locations
Users can activate a ‘Lure Module’, which encourages rare Pokémon to appear in the location for a set amount of time. Whilst this module is active, it can be used by any player… in fact, the app actually notifies players when one is used in their local area. Many players have been led into traps and had their possessions (including their phone with the app still loaded) stolen. But if something’s gonna go wrong, this is the best case scenario. Some people carry weapons, or take sexual advantage of unsuspecting people.
One guy, a registered sex offender who was guilty of molesting a teenage boy, was caught violating his probation when he started play the game with a 16-year-old boy in Indiana.
- Players visited dangerous places
Walking down a dark alley to catch Pikachu, or breaking into an abandoned building or land space to catch Mew? Just don’t do it.
Many people ignored warning signs in their determination to catch ’em all. Two men near San Diego climbed a fence and fell more than 50 feet from a cliff. Luckily they survived, but it can’t have been fun (or cheap – everything is expensive in America) to be rescued by the local fire department.
- Players entered stranger’s homes
Jerson Lopez de Leon, 18, died after being shot while trying to catch ’em all with his 17-year-old cousin. They broke into a home in Guatemala to catch a Pokémon. He was the first known person to die playing the game.
- Players were walking into traffic
… and everything else around them while staring at their phones.
Traffic accidents noticeably increased following the game’s launch and researchers attributed 134 crashes, two of which were fatal, across America to the game between July and November 2016. The study was conducted by Mara Faccio and John McConnell at Purdue University.
It takes less than a minute to spin the wheel at a PokéStop, so people thought it wouldn’t be too dangerous to do it while driving. It also takes less than a minute to crash your car and hit a pedestrian. And it can take even longer to catch a stubborn Pokémon.
Of all the things you could drive into, a police car has got to be the worst. A man crashed into a police car in Baltimore while using the app. No officers were injured, but the whole incident was captured on video.
- Some people found more than just Pokémon
A woman searching for Pokémon in Wisconsin stumbled upon a dead body face down in a nearby river. She wasn’t arrested for murder or anything, but it’s not what anyone wants to find when they just wanted to see a bouncing Jigglypuff.
- Players got into shit for taking photos
Just ‘cause you can take a photo of a Pokémon before catching it, doesn’t mean you have to. Some people were accused of photographing strangers – or even worse, children. No photo is worth being accused of being a pedo for. Countless homeowners and business owners probably also felt threatened by strangers pointing their cameras towards their homes or stores, thinking people were casing it for a burglary.
- It drains players’ batteries
… leaving them vulnerable if they need to call the police or a taxi for a ride home because they walked miles in random directions.
- Players started ordering taxis to drive them around
Great for taxi drivers, shit for people who actually needed taxis. Imagine finding out your grandad had to wait an hour to get to the store to buy his dinner because the taxis were all booked up by people catching Pokémon?
- Players walked too far
Ok that sounds dumb, but walking miles when you barely ever exercise ain’t healthy, especially when you end up miles from home. Overdoing even healthy things is bad for you – especially in the rain without a hood or boiling sun without a drink. How many people d’ya wanna bet got home with a cold or passed out from dehydration or heat stroke?