Saturday 10 December 2016

12 ways Pokémon Go has made the real world weirder

Alice Vincent

Published 12/07/2016 | 08:34

Pokemon Go. Picture: MarieCPalot/Instagram
Pokemon Go. Picture: MarieCPalot/Instagram

In the late Nineties, Pokémon, a Gameboy and trading card game, swept schools across the country. Exported from Japan, this game of catching cute mythical creatures from the wild and training them up for battle with friends and enemies alike proved thoroughly addictive.

  • Go To

Nearly two decades later and Pokémon – which never really went away in its homeland, but suffered a falling out of fashion in the West – has captured millions of people in its grasp once again.

Now available as an augmented reality smartphone game, Pokémon Go applies the concept of the original game to the player's real surroundings. Once players have downloaded the app and created their own avatar, they are free to search for Pokémon in the world around them, catching them, training and eventually battling them. 

Certain kinds of venue work as "gyms", where Pokémon can be trained for battle and compete. Pokéstops allow users to stock up on Pokéballs and other necessary goods to feed their Pokémon Go habit.

Pokémon Go is created by the John Hanke, founder of the game's parent company, Niantic. Hanke was one of the people behind Keyhole, which was eventually bought by Google to create Google Earth. 

Although Hanke told Mashable that the crowdsourced hotspots for gyms and Pokéstops were chosen on account of their safety and accessibility for pedestrians, there have been fears over safety in light of the game's wild popularity. 

Pokémon Go shot to the top of Apple's App Store Top Grossing and Free charts after being released in the US. Since being released on July 6, Pokémon Go has been installed on 5.6 per cent of all Android devices in the country, with more Android phones having the game installed than dating app Tinder.

Already the bizarre ways the international obsession with Pokémon Go has changed the world have been rolling in. Here are some of the most incredible:

1. Armed robbers use Pokémon Go to find victims

Police in O'Fallon, a city in Missouri, made a statement on Sunday claiming that four armed robbers were using the game to find people to rob at gunpoint. The criminals looked for Pokéstops and went there in anticipation of finding victims. In total, eight or nine people were robbed by the muggers in two days, the police told Gizmodo. The criminals were apprehended at 2am on Sunday.

2. Although they may want to avoid the police station Pokéstop

In Darwin, Australia, players have noticed that a police station is a Pokéstop. So many players have attempted to find Pokéballs in the station that the service had to release a statement telling them that they don't actually have to enter to play the game.

 

3. Teen playing Pokémon Go stumbles upon dead body 

Shayla Wiggins, from Wyoming, United States, discovered the body after jumping over a fence to capture a Pokémon.  

“The Pokémons are all over Riverton,” she told KTVQ.”I was trying to get a Pokémon from a natural water resource.

“I was walking towards the bridge along the shore when I saw something in the water. I had to take a second look and I realised it was a body.”

The Fremont Sheriff's statement was posted on local news outlet KVTQ's Facebook page:

 

4. Pokémon Go players are getting injured from accidents while playing the game

 

In order to find nearby Pokémon, players have to have the app open all the time. This means a lot of walking along while staring at a screen, rather than the ground beneath your feet. 

Inverse rounded up a few of the small calamities from the weekend, including a 21-year-old graduate from Long Island who fell off his skateboard while trying to capture Pokémons and a 23-year-old waitress who tripped on a cinder block.

Washington State Department of Transport issued public warnings not to play the game while driving.

— Vinny Vaillancourt (@vtothepowerof2) July 7, 2016

 

One Redditor posted a solution to the dangerous appeal of playing Pokémon Go in the car: take a friend.

Captioned, "Riding shotgun has a new set of responsibilities", Reddit user itsYosh elicited mutual understanding from others who had changed their car driving habits since the release of the game. "I do that with my husband too," wrote one, "I always make him drive slow past Pokéstops." Another commented: "Fiancé and I did this same thing last night, was nice seeing people of all ages in groups walking or riding around having a good time."

5. Man catches a Pidgey on Pokémon Go as his wife gives birth

Much to the amusement of the internet – and his wife, who was in labour with their third child – Jonathan Theriot  caught a Pidgey Pokémon who had appeared on the edge of her bed.

View post on imgur.com
 

Westboro Baptist Church, the 9/11 Memorial and hospitals are all Pokéstops.

A Reddit page set up to record the weird and wonderful areas where Pokémon can be found has been keeping players entertained. Some have gained particular significance:

View post on imgur.com
 

6. Pokémon has infiltrated the White House and the Pentagon

The famous state buildings may be some of the most secure in the world, but that hasn't stopped a Pokémon gym from being set up – or someone inside from spending their time battling the gym master, as shown by the triumphant Pokémon sitting on top of the gym in this photo. As Inverse surmises, "maybe it was a janitor, perhaps it was a five-star general or CIA leader".

7. While other Pokéspots are literally in people’s houses

As Buzzfeed reported, designer Boon Sheridan has seen an influx of smartphone-wielding strangers appear outside his home, a converted 19th-century church in Massachusetts that doubles up as a Pokémon Go gym.

Sheridan has been documenting his experiences on Twitter, and told Buzzfeed that he was mostly bemused by the whole thing - although he isn’t a massive fan of the late night visitors turning up to train their Pokémon outside his house.

 

8. But the good news is that people are befriending strangers through a shared love of Pokémon

In certain parts of Australia and the US, where the game is available, strangers are becoming friends after gathering after a Lure has been put out. This is when someone pays with the in-game currency or when a number of people playing the game are gathered together. It lasts for 30 minutes and attracts more Pokémon.

View post on imgur.com
 

9. Although some have warned of the risks to children going to Lures by themselves

 

10. Local businesses have been taking advantage of the new craze by setting themselves up as Pokéstops

So far, only the game’s creators can decide where Pokéstops and gyms exist. But that hasn’t stopped local businesses from getting in on the act to lure (no pun intended) in like-minded customers:

View post on imgur.com
 

11. Others have witnessed remarkable acts of spontaneous humanity around Pokéstops

One Reddit user told the following story:

Is this real life? from pokemongo
 

12. And some players have credited it with improving their loneliness and mental health

StonewallHaxson claimed that Pokémon Go helped him feel a little more at home in a new city:

Meeting strangers is literally the coolest feeling in the world! from pokemon
 

While a number of people are posting on social media that Pokémon Go is helping them to get out of the house and meet other people despite suffering from conditions including agoraphobia and depression.

 Even a day after the game was released, users were moved by its benefits:

 As the Pokémon Go craze spreads around the world, it's likely there will be more stories emerging from the game's players

We'll keep you updated here.

Telegraph.co.uk

Read More

Promoted articles

Editors Choice

Also in Business