Unless you chose to stay offline this weekend, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Pokemon Go. For those who haven’t, Pokemon Go is an augmented reality mobile phone game that takes users into the real world to find, capture and battle virtual creatures.
The aim of the game is to collect Pokemon by exploring your neighbourhood on foot. As you progress through the levels you can battle other players, claim territory and “evolve” your Pokemon.
The game has taken the world by storm with an estimated 7.5 Million downloads since its launch in the US alone and has gotten more people out of the house than any fitness initiative by far.
However, as with all great things, there are always those wanting to exploit it.
The app doesn’t work in the background and requires the user to walk following a virtual map with their phone in their hand. This carries obvious risks.
Users are so engrossed in the virtual world that they forget to pay attention to their surroundings (despite a large and obvious reminder on every loading screen). At the very least, this has resulted in many cuts, scrapes and bruises.
However not all Pokemon Go related injuries are so innocent. Thieves, burglars and robbers have taken advantage of the game as well.
A teenage girl in Wyoming wandered so far she discovered a dead body, hundreds of users have been reported walking into traffic and in some severe cases, players have been lured to a dark stop and robbed at gunpoint.
This was the case in Mississippi where 4 teens used a “lure module” in the game used to attract Pokemon to lure unsuspecting players to a set up. The teens would casually wait around the “PokeStop” until a victim arrived and promptly pulled a gun demanding all the victim’s possessions. The teens were arrested shortly after successfully robbing 12 people.
In Michael Baker’s case, even a stabbing wouldn’t stop him from playing the game long enough to seek medical attention. The incident occurred at 1 a.m. on Monday in Forest Grove, Oregon when Michael was walking the streets searching for Pokemon. A man approached and Michael said “I saw him go by and asked if he was playing Pokemon Go. He was like, What?”
“I guess he wanted to battle,” Baker said, referring to the in-game “battles” players can initiate. “Because he came up at me with a knife…It was pretty brief and fast, like, just slice and ran.”
Instead of rushing to the hospital, Michael continued playing and later stopped by his house to get some chips and beer. When he finally arrived at the hospital his shoulder required 8 stitches.
The game has only been live for a few weeks and hundreds of incidents have already been reported. When playing the game it’s important to stay safe and be aware of your surrounds.
This means looking up from your device regularly, travelling in pairs and avoiding night time gaming sessions.
“When you’re involved in a game and not paying attention to what’s going on around you, your situational awareness can go down,” Greensboro, N.C., police officer Ben Wingfield told local television. “Keep your head up”, Police advise.
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