People are really getting into Pokemon Go, a new mobile take on the classic franchise. In fact, they’re maybe getting a little too into it.
The game, made by Niantic and the Pokemon Company, was released late on July 6, and allows players to capture Pokemon in real-world locations. The app makes the little monsters appear on your smartphone screen, through the camera, as you walk through your neighborhood -- making it seem as if they are right in front of you. The game quickly shot to the top of the charts for Apple’s free apps and has gathered at least 100,000 downloads on Google’s Play store. It also quickly led to an unexpected side effect: a number of reported Pokemon-related injuries.
“Pokemon Go put me in the ER last night,” read one post on the Pokemon Go subreddit. (Yes, the game has its own subreddit.)
“Not even 30 minutes after the release last night, I slipped and fell down a ditch,” said the Reddit user. “Fractured the fifth metatarsal bone in my foot, 6-8 weeks for recovery. I told all the doctors I was walking my dog lol... Watch where you're going, folks!”
Others posted that they, too, had near misses or minor scrapes from chasing Pokemon a little too enthusiastically. Some have reported mishaps while seeking Pokemon and driving, which is a thing that just shouldn’t happen.
That bears repeating: do not Pokemon Go and drive.
A medical school in Arizona even sent out an e-mail to its student body, reminding them to capture carefully.
Saying that the school was aware its campus had “been invaded by Pokemon” -- a friendly invasion -- A.T. Still University's message said, “Please approach them with caution and remember to look up from your phone to avoid tripping or running into something.” A spokeswoman confirmed that the message was genuine, and sent out from the school's office of student affairs.
The Pokemon Go app itself includes a warning in the loading screen asking players to pay attention to their surroundings, but it's clear that some people are getting so excited that they forget to heed it. Niantic, which partnered with the Pokemon franchise to create the game, has some rules of the road for it’s other major title, “Ingress,” that may prove useful.
“Pay attention to your surroundings; you never know what beautiful or interesting things you'll see while playing the game,” the company cautions in its advice to players.
Niantic has also reminded “Ingress” players to respect real-world rules when an in-game point of interest shows up on someone’s private property -- no trespassing -- which is a good reminder for Pokemon Go players and any augmented-reality game the future may bring, too.
In a statement, The Pokemon Company said, "We are constantly looking at ways to add safety features to Pokémon GO and expect to incorporate some features based on user experience into future builds."
While Pokemon Go is proving problematic for those who are getting maybe a little too wrapped up in the game, it’s also having some unexpectedly positive effects.
One Reddit user reported using an item that helps draw Pokemon to a particular place, only to find that it also drew several players from the area to the same spot.
“A couple people in at my local park put down some lures close together and it ended up causing a random meet up!” the original poster said. “About 30 random people grouped up to catch pokemon!”