By Mike Malpiedi
The worldwide phenomenon that is Pokemon Go has been out for a month now. The game has been downloaded by millions and has quickly become the most used mobile app, besting even Twitter and Facebook. The game allows players to catch some of their favorite monsters from the original 151 Pokemon in the “real world” through the use of augmented reality. There is no denying the tsunami of success that follows this game and the wonderful sense of community that has been created in its wake.
To celebrate the immense success, I thought I would take some time to highlight a number of crazy stories circling around Pokemon Go since its release. Let’s start with a couple of the more intense stories…
Players have found dead bodies while playing
Yes, you did read that right. A couple of players actually stumbled upon dead bodies as they were attempting to catch Pokemon in the world. The first instances took place on July 9th when a woman in Wyoming found a body floating in the river. She was looking for Pokemon in the woods near her home when she found the body and contacted local police. The individual that was found appeared to have drowned in the river.
Another player experienced a similar encounter in New Hampshire when he came across a body floating in the brook behind the New Hampshire Holocaust Memorial. Just like the incident in Wyoming, the individual appears to have drown in the water. Both bodies were found within the first week of the app’s release.
Players are being robbed at PokeStops
There are multiple reports across the globe of people using the app to lure unsuspecting players to secluded PokeStops where they can then rob them at gunpoint. An excellent example is a report from O’Fallon, Missouri on July 11th where four young teens were robbing players at gunpoint near the local CVS parking lot. The robbers were eventually caught that same evening, but this is in no way the last occurrence of the app being used with malicious intent.
Here are some similar stories:
There are already conspiracy theories surrounding the game
The biggest conspiracy theory is that Pokemon Go was created to help the government and various intelligence agencies harvest massive amounts of data and photos from the app’s users. Kotaku writer Ashley Feinberg wrote a great piece about the theory which outlines the app’s access to players’ personal information. While the app’s access to phone information isn’t all that different from other social apps, Feinberg details the connect between Niantic founder, John Hanke, and government-controlled intelligence firms such as In-Q-Tel.
But this also isn’t the only conspiracy theory linked to the app. Others have been popping up such as the app being designed to encourage players to consume more by subtly leading players to corporate businesses and convincing them to buy more data from mobile providers. There is also, of course, the theory that the game was made to distract massive amounts of people from the news and issues of social justice, thus causing less protests and riots surrounding issues such as Black Lives Matter.
Other countries are already banning use of the app as well. Places such as Saudi Arabia and Russia are cutting off access to the app because their governments believe that the app is a manifestation of the devil and was designed to distract their populations from committing to their work and religions.
And then of course there is the lovely theory that the Obamas are behind everything because they are always behind everything. Specifically the theory is that Michelle Obama was behind the games development and created it in order to get younger people to go outside. This aligns with other theories that the app was developed to combat obesity issues in the US.
Players are falling off cliffs
Yep… That’s right. In their desperation to catch ’em all, players have unfortunately been falling off cliffs like the two young men in Encinitas, California. Reported on July 16th, two young men in their 20s fell off a 50 to 90 foot cliff that was clearly marked by a “Don’t Not Cross” sign that was place on a fence nearby. Both of the young men were found alive and immediately hospitalized. After the reports came in about the incident, local officials and the creators of the app issued statements reminding people to be conscious and safe while playing the game. The San Diego County sheriff’s department told players via the news and social media that the app is not worth risking “life or limb for.”
The app creators are being sued
Robbery isn’t the only crime being linked to Pokemon Go. The issue of players trespassing on private property has been a hot-button problem since its release and a New Jersey man is now actually suing Niantic, Nintendo, and the Pokemon Company because of it. As Polygon reported just a couple days ago, the plaintiff’s case is that the creators placed PokeStops, gyms, and other points on private property without the owners consent. The lawsuit comes after several individuals were caught attempting to enter the plaintiffs backyard with phones in hand.
And this individual is not the only person to bring up trespassing as an issue caused by the game. Multiple police stations and government buildings have issued warnings and statements asking players to not loiter or flood their buildings in search of Pokemon. As the lawsuit states:
“To create that immersive world, Niantic made unauthorized use of Plaintiff’s and other Class members’ property by placing Pokéstops and Pokémon gyms thereupon or nearby… In so doing, Niantic has encouraged Pokémon Go’s millions of players to make unwanted incursions onto the properties of Plaintiff and other members of the class — a clear and ongoing invasion of their use and enjoyment of their land from which Defendants have profited and continue to profit.”
The three companies still have 19 days to respond to the lawsuit.
And for our last bit of Pokemon Go related news….
Niantic is already pissing players off
In the past week, Niantic has made several changes to the app such as cutting off third party tracking software like Pokevision. Not only that, but Niantic removed their own tracking system from the game which makes it increasingly more difficult for players to find the monsters that they want. To make matters worse, it is being reported that Niantic has horrible customer service and has been very quiet about their recent updates. There even reports that the Niantic customer service email is completely unmonitored which is a significant breach of Apple and Google Play regulations.
There are also issues popping up with players having more difficulty catching Pokemon once they have been found. Players are reporting that it is taking a lot more Pokeballs to catch even low level monsters. Some believe that this might be a tactic Niantic is using to encourage players to send real money on Pokecoin micro-transactions. Pokecoins are a currency that players can purchase in order to buy items in-game such as Pokeballs and incenses.
Whatever their reasoning, Niantic is doing a major disservice to fans by not being more transparent with their updates. The disservice has been so widely felt that fans have gone from worshiping the app to downright hating it.
What are your favorite Pokemon Go stories?
These stories are only a small sampling of the worldwide craze Pokemon Go has caused. There are other stories involving fake legendary Pokemon sightings, the massive amounts of money the app has made, and people quitting their jobs to play. There is no doubt that Pokemon Go has caused a storm of craziness across the world and there are no signs of it stopping.
Sound off in the comments below and let us know what your favorite Pokemon Go stories are!