Pokmon Go, in the places it has been released (which don’t include the UK yet), is a phenomenon. The search term Pokmon has never been as popular and the game has rocketed to the top of the American iOS chart, making an estimated $1.6m a day. It’s a top 10 Android game in the US.
But the stories I’ve liked reading best are those of weird chance encounters. Pokmon Go is pushing people together and that’s a nice – and unpredictable – thing. Note that these stories are second-hand and based upon accounts from the Pokmon subreddit and Pokmon Go subreddit.
“So I moved to Dover, Delaware not too long ago and I haven’t really made any friends yet, so it gets pretty lonely,” wrote StonewallHaxson.
“However, tonight I decided to drive to the local Wawa to get some energy drinks to stay up late. And on my way home I hit the nearby Gym (screw you blues!) as well as stop by the veterans memorial park for a pokestop. When I was walking back to my car, a white sedan pulled and the guy rolled his window down and simply said ‘Pokmon Go?'”
Phew! Sounded like a drug deal for a second there.
“We then proceeded to chat for a few minutes and he told me that his buddy at the [US Air Force] base nearby told HIM that the lake near the post office here has Dratini!” Shut up no he did not!
“So we both drove to the lake and got our own rare Pokmon! THIS IS SO FRICKEN COOL!”
Then there’s the touching tale of the teacher who goes to a “packed” local hot spot and discovers an awkward teenager who’s been there all day, since 2pm (it’s now 7pm) buying lures to attract people to play with.
“My heart breaks,” wrote the_sylince. “I can’t do much for him, I’m a thirty year old man with bills and sensible opinions about beer, anything I might say or offer would seem uncomfortable to him.”
But then: “Humanity heard the shattering of my heart and sends two teenaged girls and the boy that’s been following them into the scene. They’d overheard, had also been playing, and promptly sat next to him. They each gave him some cash, a couple of bucks, and one says ‘That’s bullsh*t. You’re cool enough, don’t go broke.’ The other two agree, I agree and work my way out of the situation.”
They stick around for a couple more hours all laughing and joking together.
“Way to go, humanity. Way to go, Pokmon.”
Pokmon Go is bringing people together in their droves. In one thread titled “Is this real life?” there are reports of hundreds of people outside bars in one downtown area – “more outside than in!” – because the bars were pokestops with lures.
“I hung out there for about an hour then just sat back and watched what 10-year-old me could only dream of. I watched people who would never interact with each other strike up friendships, I saw old and young people comparing what they had caught, people out on dates, people coming out of the bars to catch something then go back in,” wrote TheBirdCop.
“At one point someone yelled ‘THERE’S A RHYDON IN THE STREET!’ and from my position I could see 50+ people all turn their cameras in the same direction to reveal the beast. For a moment there WAS a huge stony rhinoceros in the middle of downtown. It was real.
“For as silly as it was, I will never forget that moment. This game is unreal, it’s bringing people together.”
The rest of the thread is filled with comments saying similar.
Parents post stories of children wanting to get out of the house to catch Pokmon, carers post stories of heart-warming Pokmon Go excitement from their patients, and there are even reports of the police getting involved, in a nice way. Heck in Perth, Australia, the police are posing for selfies with a huge ‘PokemonGowalk’ crowd – and there’s a similar walk going on in Sydney, too.
— Perth Police (@PerthPol) July 10, 2016
But there is another side to all of this interaction. It’s great that people are outside and mingling and exercising but sooner or later someone will end up somewhere they shouldn’t and get in trouble. A story of two lads knocking on one man’s door and asking to come in because he’s got a Pokmon in his garden is lovely but worrying in equal measure. Then there are reports of people behaving angrily because the game isn’t going well for them, and harassing people.
More seriously, there are concerns that people will distractedly cross roads or even drive cars while playing Pokmon Go, and sooner or later, given the amount of people playing, accidents will happen. The Tennessee Highway Saftey Office even issued a poster about playing Pokmon Go while driving.
More extreme still is one astonishing account of someone who, mid-YouTube stream, apparently witnessed a murder, although this is unconfirmed. Scary, though.
Pokmon Go will no doubt be attached to more controversial stories in the days and weeks to come. I just hope the positive isn’t overshadowed by negative stories that tend to make for more drama.
As mentioned above, Pokmon Go is not available in the UK yet, although there is a workaround that lets you play it.