Last night, at dinner with my wife, I sat at the table of the restaurant, picking at my shrimp quesadilla, and caught a Pidgey. Throughout our meal, I checked my phone more than usual, traded in some Pokemon for bits of candy, and continued to check my phone as I walked to my car. That night, after I got home, I dropped some incense to attract more of them to my apartment, while I lay in bed, enjoying the sight of my Pokedex slowly filling itself over time. Naturally, this is what Pokemon GO has done to my life.
I was relatively harsh on Pokemon GO the last time I played it just a short while ago pre-release and not much has changed with the game from a gameplay perspective. But part of the issue with a game like this, one that requires you to go out into the world, interact, and explore, is that when you’re alone, you feel very alone. You’re alone both digitally, and physically.
Now that Pokemon GO is available for the general public (unless you’re plagued by the prevalent server issues) it’s one of the most infectiously addicting things you can do on a smartphone. It’s just a few days after release and not only are people entranced at dinner tables like me, but businesses are having to take special measures and precautions as well.
For your reference, in the game, it uses the real world as the game map. Certain locations – such as parks, restaurants, businesses, and other physical points of interest – are tagged as locations in the game that players need to visit. This means that players will be encouraged to physically visit those places, in the real world, to get items and catch Pokemon inside the game world.
A Dairy Queen fast-food restaurant noticed such a high influx of people coming inside that they posted a sign on their door stating that “Pokemon are for paying customers only” although it’s unclear if this is meant to be taken seriously or not.
Alternatively, this indie clothing store posted the sign shown above beckoning people to come inside, get some pokeballs, and check out some of their items. Some companies are even cracking down on their employees that have been caught playing when they should be working – that’s how addicting it’s already getting.
And if you’re in the military, you probably shouldn’t let your Sergeant catch you playing when you’re at the gym, although he seemed a bit curious about it himself in this email.
An Australian police station took very direct measures, going as far as asking that people please do not actually come inside the station to interact with the game’s features. In a humorous statement, they said: “Please be advised that you don’t actually have to step inside in order to gain the pokeballs. It’s also a good idea to look up, away from your phone and both ways before crossing the street. That Sandshrew isn’t going anywhere fast.” This 911 dispatcher even documented a case of a complaint issued against a “suspect” for being suspicious while wandering aimlessly, outside, entranced by the game.
It’s not all silliness though, as some situations are a bit more dire than others. For example, the official Twitter account for Washington State’s Department of Transportation issued a warning about playing Pokemon GO and driving. A ridiculously dangerous idea that I’m baffled needs to be explicitly regarded.
Furthermore, a children’s hospital in Columbus, Ohio is cautioning staff that people playing the game have been spotted exploring restricted areas of the hospital in search of wandering Pokemon. Innocent enough, sure, but those restricted areas are restricted for safety reasons, not just because they like keeping doors locked. And just recently, it was reported that a young woman came across an actual dead body in a river while exploring for Pokemon.
We of course advise everyone to pay attention to their surroundings and stay safe, it’s pretty incredible to see a single game, mere days after its release, take the world by storm and impact so many people and businesses in sweeping ways. It’ll be exciting to see how the trend evolves as time continues.
You can even add the location of Pokemon on this handy map, directly from Google, to help others catch those pesky critters.