Pokémon Go is EVERYWHERE. You can’t walk past a point of interest or local landmark without seeing pocket monster hunters clutching their smartphones. Whether you like it or not, it’s hard to be miserly about a craze that’s bringing people together and getting everyone outside and breathing in fresh air.
However, despite all the positives, there’s also an increasing number of stories emerging about the stupid/ridiculous things that people are doing while out and about playing the game. It’s a gaming news writer’s dream come true, and we’ve spent the best part of the week enjoying these tales of misadventure.
Now we’ve decided to collect together all of the interesting stories that we’ve heard since Pokémon Go launched earlier this month, and here they are, in no particular order, ready for your reading pleasure.
Two men fall off a cliff
This is actually the story that inspired the whole article. Many of the incidents mentioned herein have already been covered elsewhere on Gamereactor, but news that two men in their twenties in North San Diego County fell up to 100 feet off a sandstone bluff while playing the game prompted us to dig deeper and see what we could uncover.
In this case Encinitas firefighters had to rescue the two twenty-somethings, one of whom was unconscious, after they had entered a fenced-off area in search of rare Pokémon, only for the ground to literally give way beneath them. Via the LA Times, Robbie Ford of the Encinitas Fire Department said:
“I think people just need to realise this is a game. It’s not worth your life. No game is worth your life.” Quite. Neither man is in serious condition and they came away with only moderate injuries, which is extremely lucky all things considered.
When religion and video games collide
There’s two different stories worth a mention when it comes to Pokémon’s almost inevitable clash with religion (a lot of churches, being landmarks, are Pokéstops, so it was bound to happen).
The first and most recent is the American pastor who’s been screaming on the radio about terrorists potentially using the technology powering the game to hunt Christians. Even better, he says that the game is a magnet for demonic powers. It’s not a huge distance away from this thread on Reddit, which suggests that there’s some conspiracy at work. But we digress.
The other religiously tinged story that we want to tell you about came when a one brilliant Pokémon player discovered that the infamous Westboro Church was actually a Pokéstop and, after taking control of it, stationed a fairy there called Loveislove.
It didn’t take long for the hate-filled church to discover that they’d been expertly trolled, and not being ones to shy away from controversy they quickly took advantage of the situation and used it as an excuse to peddle their particular brand of bile. Still, we were all laughing, and not with them.
Clinton’s political evolution
The last thing we want to do is weigh in on the presidential campaigns currently ongoing in the States, but when Donald Trump took a pop at Hillary Clinton via the medium of Pokémon, we sat up and took note.
The presidential candidate posted a video on Facebook that shows a player catching a new Pokémon called Crooked Hillary. Her type is “Career Politician”, and in keeping with the terminology of the game, Trump (or one of his witty assistants) revealed that her evolution is “unemployed.”
Expert banter from a man about to lose an election, or a portentous prediction? We just don’t know, but ten out of ten for jumping on the bandwagon early and getting a cheeky dig in on your opponent.
Don’t poke and drive
Seriously. We can’t believe we’re even writing this, but one man in Auburn, NY, drove his car (actually, his brother’s car) into a frickin’ tree while playing Pokémon. And when we say drove his car into a tree, we don’t mean he was crawling along the side of the road trying to cheat the pedometer and accidentally dinked his car. No, he smashed his car into a tree and totally wrote it off.
We find it incredible that it even needs saying, but you should never ever ever ever ever ever drive a car and play Pokémon at the same time. It should be a no brainer, but as this Tweet by Brittany Murphy reveals, sometimes it needs to said with the caps look on.
Poked with a blade and other violent crimes
This isn’t the funny bit, but it needs to be mentioned. NBC Los Angeles told us about a man in Anaheim Park who got stabbed multiple times while out playing the game. He’s not in serious condition, but there’s a cautionary tale in there about being aware of your surroundings.
In a similar vein, last week there was the news of the evil geniuses who were throwing down lures to attract Pokémon to their location, with players following in hot pursuit. The little bastards then relieved their victims of their personal belongings at gunpoint. It’s a story that has us shaking our heads in disbelief and disgust, while also being impressed by their criminal ingenuity.
To marvel at someone with no criminal ingenuity look no further than the man from Detroit who inadvertently handed himself over to police. The 26-year-old had a warrant out for his arrest, and was recognised by officers while outside his local police station (also a Pokéstop) while looking for Pokémon in his pyjamas.
Careful where you wander
Not a crime, but still macabre, the week kicked off with the story of the girl who, while out hunting for rare pocket monsters, stumbled upon a dead body instead.
We’re not sure who had it worse, the girl who discovered the corpse floating in the water, or the trio of players who got locked in a graveyard in Pennsylvania (hey, at least it wasn’t Transylvania). Also, spare a thought for the four poor souls who got stuck in an underground cave network here in the UK.
Cloudy with a chance of Squirtles
One of our absolute favourite stories of the week, and also one of the most innocent, is the tale of the American news anchor who inadvertently gatecrashed the weather report live on air.
With eyes fixed firmly on her mobile, Allison Kropff simply walked past weather presenter Bobby Deskins, who told the world: “She’s looking for Pokémon! You guys have got to be careful with these phones and this Pokémon. You’re just walking around all over the place.”
Marines caught more than they bargained for
Deskins is right, you do have to be careful. While you’re out and about you don’t know who’s around the corner. We’re not trying to make anyone fearful, but it’s important to keep your wits about you, and this next story is a great example of why.
Two marines, out playing Pokémon Go (as is tradition in the marines), came across a man acting suspiciously around two families. The first family scarpered after coming across his strange behaviour, and the marines were on hand to intervene when he inappropriately touched a child from a second family. They waited with the man until the police arrived. It later turned out that the individual in question was wanted in connection with an attempted murder. Busted.
Australians don’t suffer fools gladly, and this was exemplified in a couple of ways last week. On the one hand you had Aussie police officers threatening loiterers with fines, which kept people from staying too long in any one Pokéstop.
On the other hand local residents at one estate decided to deal with crowds of players with their own brand of justice: by hurling waterbombs at people waiting to stock up on Pokéballs.
Meanwhile in America, the crowd was showing their collective lack of subtlety when they caused an actual stampede when a rare Pokémon turned up in Central Park.
Caught by Pokémon
The aim of the game is to catch Pokémon, but sometimes things get turned upside down and it’s the hunter that gets caught out. This is what happened to Evan Scribner, who got dumped by his girlfriend after his Pokémon-related activities revealed he was cheating on his lady.
“She saw that I had caught a Pokémon while at my ex’s house,” Scribner said via the New York Post. It’s hard to feel sorry him after his now ex-girlfriend looked through his game data and discovered that he had been catching pocket monsters in-between kisses at his ex’s place.
Don’t quit your day job
Some people take Pokémon seriously, but perhaps none more so than New Zealander Tom Currie, who quit his job so he could hunt Pokémon full-time. Previously a barista and bartender, Currie decided to jack it all in and pursue his true dream. The BBC report explains that he had caught 91 of the 151 Pokémon available at launch.
“I have been meeting heaps of people, tourists travelling the country and other Pokémon trainers at the small (sometimes huge) public gatherings,” he told the Beeb.
“When you and your friends have to physically go for a walk or run to catch a rare Pokémon in the area and you all catch it, that is definitely a highlight.”
And perhaps that’s the perfect place to wrap this up. Lots of silly things have happened in the name of Pokémon Go this week, but let’s not forget that Niantic’s game has also been a revelation. It has brought people together in a way and to an extent that no video game has ever done before. It might not be for everyone, but it’s still a brilliant thing that we’re glad has happened. It might wear thin at times (potentially even more so in the months ahead), but that will no doubt be eased by the continuing stream of amusing and/or interesting stories that will carry on emerging as players continue to interact with the game and the real world at the same time.
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