With success comes … robberies? 10 side effects of ‘Pokémon Go’s’ popularity

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It’ll make your legs hurt

Exercise. Not normally associated with video games, millions of people playing Pokémon Go are finding they have to go outside to do it. The fun part of the idea — finding Pokémon in the real world — is also the most tiring, because you actually have to go hunt those Pokémon. It’s even worse in rural areas, where Pokéstops, or real-world locations that give in-game items, are few and far between, sometimes requiring players to travel miles to find one. On top of that, Pokémon eggs are gathered in game and require walking to hatch, some as much as 10 kilometers in distance. And there’s no cheating: the game is smart enough to know when you’re moving at the speed of a car or a train. On the upside, you’re basically training for that 5K you keep putting off.

It could get you robbed


That’s what happened to Pokémon Go players in O’Fallon, Missouri. Over the first weekend after the game’s release, a lot of people found themselves playing at night; the time of day affects which Pokémon you might find, and with fewer people playing, developer Niantic’s overtaxed servers seem to run a lot better. But some clever crooks used the nighttime draw of Pokémon to their advantage. According to police, using Pokémon Go, suspects watched for other players to use “lures” at Pokéstops in secluded locations late at night, and then robbed them. Police arrested four suspects, including a juvenile, but lesson learned: Be careful when you Pokémon alone at night.

It might lead you to dead bodies

The thing about Pokémon Go is the cute little creatures within it come from a variety of biomes, and so if you search for them in a park, you’ll find different ones than if you search in a desert, or near a body of water. So the game might draw you to places off the beaten path in order to find new PokéPrey, like it did 19-year-old Shayla Wiggins in rural Wyoming. Looking to grab a water Pokémon from near the Big Wind River, she stumbled on something else: a man’s body. Police say they believe the death to be accidental. Staying in populated areas when looking for Pokémon is probably a good idea.

It could help a hate group create awful propaganda

The purveyors of generalized bigoted terribleness who find a home at the Westboro Baptist Church aren’t exactly subtle, so when they discovered that the Pokémon gym at their church had been overtaken by a Clefairy by the name of LoveIsLove, they did what they do best: created bigoted, kind of stupid propaganda. To rage at the happiness of gay people, Pokémon-style, they chose Jigglypuff, another pink, generally balloon-like Pokémon, for some reason. Anyway, cool as Pokémon Go has been in getting people outside, walking around and meeting other players, it’s good to remember that there are still awful people in the world, and they apparently have some idea what a Jigglypuff is.

It might cause you to offend Holocaust survivors

HolocaustMuseumPlaque

Look, just because you can play Pokémon Go just about anywhere doesn’t mean you should play Pokemon Go just about anywhere. That includes the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, which is asking people to stop playing the game there, because, you know, it is disrespectful as hell. Like many other landmarks in many other cities, the Holocaust Museum has a Pokéstop associated with it. Unlike many other landmarks in many other cities, there are actually three Pokéstops at the museum, associated with different parts of it — so people are actually going inside to play, which is a little messed up.

It is also not the first time developer Niantic has run into similar troubles. Pokémon Go sources all of its location data from the Niantic’s last game, Ingress, and Ingress got much of its info from using Google Maps to find spots where people gather. Spots like memorials in Europe that used to be Nazi concentration camps. Niantic removed those spots for Ingress, so it’ll probably do the same for the Holocaust Museum and Pokémon Go. Eventually.

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