The Dark Side of Pokemon Go: Corpses, Armed Robbery, Unusual Locations for Pokemon Gyms

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
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The Dark Side of Pokemon Go: Corpses, Armed Robbery, Unusual Locations for Pokemon Gyms

It's not hard to have heard something about Pokemon Go recently; the game was responsible for a 25 percent jump in share prices for Nintendo at one point, reports noted. While the game is drawing plenty of interest, and plenty of people out roaming the countryside and urban canyons looking for Pokemon, it's also made for some darker stories.

The combination of clock and GPS that drives Pokemon Go has led to some unusual developments, and people going places where they wouldn't ordinarily go in a bid to, as the series so famously put it, "catch 'em all." One particular "Poke Stop" led users into a police station in Australia, which led to the station getting so much foot traffic that the Darwin police ultimately had to shut the station to walk-ins.

Another incident with a Massachusetts homeowner named Boon Sheridan led to the discovery that his home--an old church converted to a private residence--had been designed a Pokemon gym, a location where the creatures could be trained to fight better. While no one's actually invaded his home at last report, Sheridan has noted that gamers are both blocking his driveway in cars and hanging around his front yard.

In an example of karma being real, and disastrous, the notorious Westboro Baptist Church--famed for its ghoulish practice of picketing funerals--is the resting place of a Pokemon with something of a "gay-friendly" stance known as Clefairy.

Nineteen-year-old Pokemon hunter Shayla Wiggins took to the Big Wind River in Wyoming, and what she found was no Pokemon, but rather a human corpse near the Highway 789 bridge. And in perhaps the most shameful example, it was discovered that armed robbers had taken to staking out these locations in a bid to find potential targets, knowing where some key points were and simply waiting for new victims to arrive. The game makes this especially easy, even if unintentionally, by offering a Lure module that calls large numbers of Pokemon to it. Great for a video game store or the like hoping to lure customers along with Pokemon, but not so great for armed robbers looking for a middle-of-nowhere point to summon victims.

The Pokemon Company--makers of Pokemon Go--offered less-than-helpful advice of "be(ing) aware of their (gamers') surroundings and "to play with friends when going to new or unfamiliar places." Which is advice on par with telling people to look both ways before they cross the street. It's actually kind of a surprise we haven't heard about lawsuits coming out of this yet, or a means to vet potential users of Lure modules who may be using them to summon players as much as Pokemon.

Still, this kind of thing is probably to be expected. It's still all at a very early point in its life cycle, so many of these things were probably not only unforeseen, but also unable to be foreseen. While Donald Rumsfeld's old lines about "known unknowns" and "unknown unknowns" may have seemed like so much double-talk, the basics are true. Sometimes you plain old don't know what you don't know, and you can't plan for things you don't even know exist.

Now that these are known, however, it's clear some points will need to be addressed to keep people from wandering onto people's lawns or getting ambushed by Lure users. It's just smart policy to keep gamers safe, and we're likely to see that show through clearly here.

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