Since its release in the middle of last week, Pokemon Go has pretty well set the world on fire. A crappy launch in the summer heat plagued by server issues hasn’t kept players from taking to the streets and…tapping on pictures of Pokemon and whatever the hell. The game has been so unexpectedly popular, Nintendo shares were up 10% by the end of launch week.
If you’re not familiar with the mechanics of the game–and you didn’t benefit from my snarky bullshit above–Pokemon Go works like one of the classic Pokemon games in that you collect Pokemon out in the wild and battle with them, in hopes of one day “catching ’em all.” The difference in Pokemon Go is that the main character is really you, and you have to actually walk the face of the earth to play the game. I’m willing to call it a video game, but what we’re really dealing with here is an augmented reality game.
Let’s take a look at what fun that’s brought us so far.
- These armed robberies – Let’s kick it off near my hometown here in the Greater St. Louis area, where armed gunmen put up a beacon in the app and waited for players to come along. Multiple robberies were reported before suspects were apprehended.
- This dead body (not pictured) – A teenage girl needed to explore a “natural water source” in hopes of scoring a Blastoise or whatever other fish-like or duck-like creature, and instead found a level 1 Magicorpse.
- Trespassers – No one exactly forced this guy to buy a church and convert it into his house, but it’s unclear why the game is sending players to so many churches in the first place. I know all are welcome at most churches, but I’m sure a lot of them are hoping you’re there to get your praise on. There may be tax shelter potential for those interested in opening a federally-recognized Pokemon church.
- Police Attention – This “wandering into maybe a drug deal” story took a sharp left turn when the questionable dudes a player encountered late at night flagged him down to tell him where the nearby Pokemon was. When the police showed up on cue, according to the player, the three of them helped the officer get started in the game.
- Malware – With pushing a phone’s limitations comes odd little vulnerabilities, and those acquiring the game from third-party sources may not be doing themselves any favors.
- Traffic Chaos – Some drivers don’t mind stopping in the middle of the street once they’ve found the PokeStuff they need. Not to mention the folks wandering with their heads down, eyes on their phones.
- Strip Clubs – Users are quickly compiling long lists of weird places they’ve been encouraged to go to possibly find Metapod using Harden. Yikes.
- Broken Bones – One Reddit user found that their Metatarsal wasn’t very effective when they fell into a ditch on a hunt, breaking it.
Needless to say, most users are having a good time. Plenty are reporting improved moods, no doubt benefiting from a sudden increase in exercise and it’s hard to argue with that. I’m sure we’re not done hearing Go stories ranging from uplifting to horrifying. But is this really better than a traditional Pokemon game on smartphones?
State your case, players! This topic will be back tomorrow.
Todd Mitchell is a US Midwest-based comedy writer and game developer with bylines at Weekly Humorist, Fanbyte, Slackjaw, End of the Bench Sports, and more. He’s the author of Inside Video Game Creation, the founder of CodeWritePlay, and host of the GameDev Breakdown podcast. Follow him on Twitter @Mechatodzilla.