I’d like to think that I’m kind of a healthy gamer. While MMOs take a lot of time, the nice thing is that their downtime can lead to forming bonds, or give you time to exercise. Augmented reality games can give you both at once, especially Pokemon Go, since it’s the best-known ARG we have (and the mountains of merchandise make it easier to stand out as a fellow player).
However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and I’m not just talking about game mechanics that have plagued Niantic games since at Ingress. I remember playing that title and thinking, “Man, this game is dangerous! There’s no way they’ll just clone this for POGO, right?” And yet, here we are. But I can’t put all the blame on Niantic, especially after my time with ARG competitor Maguss. Some things just seem inherent to the genre.
According to Chesapeake, Virginia, news, a 60-year-old resident was shot and killed by a security guard while playing Pokemon Go last week.
The victim, Jiansheng Chen, who reportedly played the game to bond with his grandchildren, spoke limited English, which may have contributed to what police investigators have characterized as a confrontation. His family owned a home in the neighborhood where the shooting occurred. The family attorney says he was likely training at a gym in his Virginian neighborhood.
The community association for the neighborhood says security guard patrols are contracted to be “unarmed,” not armed. Police confirmed the case is currently under investigation.
As a reminder, please stay safe when playing the game. Real world death is a thing with this game, and not just in America. Muggings happen, even to streamers. It’s especially difficult for some minorities to play. Stay safe, don’t enter dangerous areas, and despite design issues, try not to draw unwanted attention to yourself. Your life is more important than the game.
Kotaku has reported another death associated with Pokemon Go. Citing an article in Japanese-language Livedoor, the site says that a truck driver in Aichi Prefecture was arrested for accidentally hitting and killing a nine-year-old child. Police say the driver was playing — you guessed it — Pokemon Go while driving.
In happier news, dataminers say they’ve discovered code for three different types of daily quests buried inside the Pokemon Go app.
And in significantly happier news, Halloween has arrived in the game, and it’s all about candy. More candy. Way too much candy, plus extra spooky catchables.
“Starting October 26 and lasting through November 1, you can receive way more Candies than usual. Every Pokémon you catch will award six Candies—twice the normal amount. The Professor will give you two Candies instead of one for every Pokémon you transfer to him. And your Buddy Pokémon will award Candy four times faster than they usually do. Plus, you’ll get twice the Candy you’d normally get when you hatch Eggs. Walk and catch all the Pokémon you can to get your fill of Candy during this special event!”
Let’s stop fussing over what Pokemon Go is being dragged into court over and focus on something it’s apparently, if inadvertently, doing right: suicide prevention.
The Japan Times reported over the weekend that the head of a suicide prevention agency in Japan, Yukio Shige, claims that a notorious suicide hotspot in Fukui Prefecture (with allegedly 120 deaths in the last decade) has seen fewer suicide attempts in the last two months since Pokemon Go launched. Shige argues that the designation of Tojinbo — that’s the cliff-top park in question — as a PokeStop has brought local traffic and players to the area, which in turn has changed the atmosphere into a lively one incongruous with self-harm. The Times reports,
“[Shige] said the effect of Pokemon Go is noticeable in that he did not encounter any suicidal visitors in August. Although he spotted seven such people in September, one of them told him the atmosphere ‘was not quite right for committing suicide.'”
Shige further noted he hopes other known suicide destinations in the country will also become PokeStops and widen the presumed effect.
In yesterday’s Pokemon Go post, we alluded to an awful car accident in Japan caused by a truck driver who admitted to playing Pokemon Go while driving. He plowed into two women crossing the street in Tokushima, killing one of them, and was subsequently arrested, though the prefecture has yet to decide whether to prosecute him.
Reuters reports today that a Nintendo spokesman has “offered condolences” and said “Pokemon Company and Niantic endeavor to create an environment where people can play the game safely and we will continue to do that.” The game already pops up a warning window when it detects the player moving at driving speed.
Please don’t drive distracted.
Pokemon Go has now been out for a whole month. Here’s a look at the app’s news from the weekend:
I almost start to worry about Pokemon Go when we have only a few stories to report and not so many that I am culling them!
- A 19-year-old in Australia apparently crashed his car into a school classroom — a Catholic college in Melbourne that was mercifully empty at the time. Why is this relevant? He was playing Pokemon Go at the time. The police spokeswoman actually made Pokemon jokes during her debrief.
- But no one’s cracking jokes about this one. MOP reader Nordavind pointed us to this Danish-language report of a 21-year-old man who was indeed killed when his van ran off a road and hit a tree. Danish police are utterly refusing to call this a Pokemon Go accident, stating that while they found his phone unlocked with the Pokemon app running, they cannot declare with certainty that he was playing when he crashed. But, yeah.
- Remember the Sydney suburb trying to eject PokeStops from its local park because of the traffic congestion, trash, and extra police they were having to pay for? Dusseldorf, Germany, has a similar problem — a local bridge with PokeStops at both ends, and you can reach both by standing right in the middle, so guess where all the Pokefans from out of town are gathering? The Dusseldorf government is actually responding to it by deploying extra toilet and garbage facilities and traffic cops to shut down the bridge to cars as needed. Hopefully, the extra income from the tourists will be paying for that, eh?
Another day, another round of wild Pokemon Go stories from across the globe.
- Let’s kick it off with this story from the Guardian: Bosnian players are being “urged to avoid areas littered with unexploded mines left over from the 1990s conflict.” It’s no joke; almost 2000 people have been killed or injured by landmines in the area in the years since the war ended. Be careful out there.
- A gamer crashed his car into a cop car in Baltimore because he was distracted playing Pokemon Go. The incident was low-impact and handled well by all involved, but it could have been a tragedy. Please don’t drive and Pokemon. It’s really not funny and it could ruin lives.
- Canadians showed how friendly and lovable they are by putting together a Pokemon Go community before the game was even officially out up North, not that that stopped them from downloading it on the US market anyway.
- Here’s a neat piece on legal rights as they pertain to the game. Do you have the right to trespass on private property in search of Pokemon? (No, of course not.) Do you have the right to force Niantic to remove virtual Pokemon from private property — or public property that’s inappropriate for gaming, like cemeteries or the Holocaust Museum? (More concerningly, also no.)
- Like chatting with Pokebuddies? There’s an app for that — but it’s by Razer, not Nintendo or Niantic.