You just can’t catch’em all
31 August 2016 by Lauren Hancock
By now you have likely heard of Pokémon Go, and like it or loathe it, there is no disputing that the augmented reality video game has taken the world by storm. TechCruch reports that, since its release on the 6th July 2016, the application has been downloaded by smartphone users more than 100 million times. Some however have not revelled in the success of Pokémon Go, sustaining injury or the becoming victims of crime whilst in pursuit of the highly sought after ‘pocket monsters’.
In July alone a reported 290 incidents involving Pokémon Go users were recorded by police across England and Wales. Forces across the country have issued warnings requesting users to be vigilant when playing the game. Unfortunately it seems these warnings came too late or were simply ignored by some…
In Derby, a teenager suffered burns to her foot supposedly as a result of brushing up against a giant hogweed plant whilst playing Pokémon Go in her local park with friends. The plant contains toxic sap that can cause severe burns and even blindness. Following reports of the teenager’s injuries, Derby City Council confirmed they would be investigating the incident.
Elsewhere, players have entered hazardous waste sites in order to catch Pokémon, oblivious to the risks they are taking in doing so. UK waste management company ‘BusinessWaste.co.uk’ has reported numerous incidents since the release of the app including an adult straying onto a waste site filled with dangerous machinery, a family found hunting at an active landfill site and a teenager climbing onto an industrial bin containing metallic waste, all in a bid to find the rarest of Pokémon.
The risk taking doesn’t stop there. A Wiltshire rescue operation was orchestrated in July to recover 4 teenagers lost and trapped in an underground cave whilst playing Pokémon Go. The group entered the underground caves, spanning an area of around 72sq miles in the hopes of locating Pokémon; unsurprisingly none were found.
Shockingly, a series of road traffic accidents attributed to the app have also been reported since Pokémon Go’s release; in the UK a teenager in Bexleyheath was struck by a motorbike after walking out between two buses whilst playing the game. Further afield, a gamer in Auburn, New York crashed his car into a tree after swerving off the road while attempting to catch a Pokémon. Meanwhile, in Australia a driver crashed his car into a school building after losing control of the vehicle on a roundabout, reportedly preoccupied with Pokémon Go.
Most startlingly, two unconnected fatalities attributed to the game were recently reported in Japan. In the first, a 72 year old woman, was the victim of an absentminded driver who told police he was playing Pokémon Go when he hit her at speed as she crossed the road. Elsewhere in Japan, less than a week later, a cyclist in her 20’s was also struck by a car. The driver told police that he was attempting to charge his phone at the time of impact, which had been drained by his use of the app. Since its Japanese release on the 22nd July 2016, a reported 79 car and bicycle incidents have been attributed to Pokémon Go in Japan.
Despite these and the many similar stories reported around the world over the past months, millions continue to play Pokémon Go and generally speaking most gamers are able to enjoy the game without incident. Niantic Inc, the creators of Pokémon Go, set out to create a game which would motivate players to go out and explore the world around them and whilst it is unlikely they envisaged the extent to which users would go in search of Pokémon, they have undoubtedly achieved that aim.
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