Real life is a bit shit at the minute. If we’re not despairing over the latest tragedy to befall humanity on the news, our newsfeeds are clogged up with the despicable and miserable fall-out from the next political mishap – and on top of all of that, Frank Ocean still hasn’t released his album. What gives, world?
So thank God for Pokémon: for Pallet Town, for Squirtle, Bulbasaur and Charmander, for the Master Ball, for the SS Anne, for the sheer creative brains that it took to think up something as batshit as Lickitung – there’s a lot to be thankful for when it comes to appraising Satoshi Tajiri’s seemingly-timeless 1995 creation, and its recent resurgence in popularity is testament to its enduring nostalgic brilliance.
Said nostalgia has been triggered this past week by the long-anticipated arrival in the US, Australia, New Zealand and (finally) the UK, of Pokémon Go, a mobile game on iOS and Android that allows you, the average Joe, to capture Pikachu et al in real life. That’s right: sitting on the bus, you spot a mischievous Oddish giving you the big one – go on, catch that fucker, show it who’s boss. Walking along the street, a Meowth has the temerity to get in your way. Throw a Poké ball at it – that’ll wipe the smug grin off its feline face. On the way to that important appointment that you can’t possibly be late for? I’ll get there once I’ve battled this fiery Ponyta, thank you very much.
The signs are that Pokémon Go will continue the franchise’s tradition of producing hugely addictive games, with testimonies already coming in thick and fast on internet forums and social media of people giving up all their previous responsibilities as they surrender their lives to the escapist excellence of inhabiting a virtual reality where Pokémon appear from every nook and cranny. There have been tales of inspiration, stories of blossoming love and, most encouragingly, touching testimonies of how the game is helping people going through a tough period in their lives. But there have also been idiots who’ve fallen in ponds whilst playing the game. And that’s not even the worst thing that’s happened.
Here’s a slice of all the mayhem and joy that Pokémon Go has been causing since launch day.
Someone got stabbed playing Pokémon Go, then just kept playing
Michael Baker went out searching for Pokémon at around 1am on Monday morning, determined to become the “first one to get ’em all”. When he encountered a stranger on the street, he thought they might also be playing the game, and asked if they fancied a battle. The stranger reacted by stabbing poor Michael in the shoulder. Undeterred, Baker continued his excursion by purchasing “chips and beer” and looking for more Pokémon. When he eventually made it to hospital, he had to get eight stitches.
It made someone fall in a pond
The downside to augmented reality is that it could prohibit your awareness of actual reality. This man, for example, accidentally fell into a pond during a YouTube live stream of his Pokémon GO adventures.
It made someone fall off a cliff
They call the human race the most advanced intellectual species on earth. We created the internet, capitalism and Chicken McNuggets, which is why I can’t quite believe I’m writing that two humans walked off the same San Diego cliff in pursuit of a Pokémon character. Despite falling 50ft and 90ft respectively, both are (miraculously) still alive.
It made someone crash their car
Yep, you read that correctly. An actual human with a brain played Pokémon Go behind the wheel and veered off the road into a tree.
No one was seriously injured in the crash, but it has forced police to renew their call for common sense when playing Pokémon Go. The police department at Auburn, NY where the incident took place have issued the following advice:
Don’t play the game while driving a car or bicycle.
Don’t trespass on private property just to “catch” a Pokemon.
Avoid staring down at your phone and be aware of hazards like roadways, drop-offs and waterways.
Be cautious of who you share your location with.
Don’t travel alone.
Sound advice, there.
It got someone a date
Redditor UnityTreeSavior’s story of love is currently sitting pretty at the top of the Pokémon thread, so we’ll let him take it from here:
I was walking around town after dinner, trying to hatch my eggs. But instead of hatching eggs (for some reason, my walks didn’t register. oh well), I caught a few Pidgeys and one Eevee, nothing special. I was about to start walking back home then some girl asked, “hey, are you playing Pokémon Go too?” Then we just talked about Pokémon. I didn’t play Pokémon past Ruby version, so my knowledge of Pokémon was a bit dated, but I think we still had a good time.
Her Pokémon Go collection was far superior than mine… She already had Zolten (I swear I meant Jolteon) and Flareon, while I have two sad Eevees sitting in my bag…
But the important thing is that I am meeting her again tomorrow! I asked her out on a date and she said yes! Thank you Pokémon Go!
Forget Love Island, there should just be a reality series where Z-listers bond over whether they should use their Moon Stone to evolve their Clefairy.
It’s helping people embrace exercise
Another Redditor has taken to the site to proclaim the health benefits of playing the game. Entitled ‘I’m a 320lb man who doesn’t like to bike, but…’, MRbraneSIC wrote:
I just spent the last hour riding my bike throughout my neighbourhood looking for Pokémon. Best part, it didn’t even feel like working out. Much better experience than just trying to use a Kinect lol
I was in search of an elusive Dratini. Needless to say, I didn’t catch it, but it wasn’t all in vain. I caught a Psyduck and a Squirtle, but a Staryu got away…dumb part is, though, I only got 1.1km on my one and only egg when I travelled at least 3 miles 🙁
So, I’m sweaty, and work is gonna suck tomorrow with sore legs, but I had a lot of fun. It really felt like I was a part of the Pokémon world.
What a time to be alive.
Sweat on, dude. Sweat on.
A dad-to-be played it while his wife was in labour
Tales of irresponsibility naturally emerge when a new craze blows up out of nowhere – remember how Pokémon cards got banned at school because that kid you all hated in Year 3 stole a load out of Callum’s tray, and Callum’s mum called up the headteacher saying that those weren’t Callum’s cards, they were actually his older brother’s, and that everyone was now very upset about it, so the headteacher called a special assembly banning “those cards”, ruining your childhood then and there? Ahh, memories.
Such irresponsibility carries through to the adult world, apparently: a bozo dad-to-be decided to play Pokémon Go while his poor partner was well on the way to giving birth to an actual living thing – and he then upped his douchebaggery ten-fold by posting a screenshot of the incident to the internet. Good one, mate.
Someone found a Diglett in a toilet
Yes they did.
Australian players tried to invade a police station to catch a Sandshrew
On the day the game was launched, the Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services in Australia, who’d realised that their Darwin Police Station featured as a Pokéstop, posted this friendly reminder to their Facebook page.
Good on them for keeping Ash Ketchum’s spirit alive.
A US Marine caught an attempted murder suspect
The game has also been an aide to catching criminals – albeit unintentionally. When Marine Corps veteran Javier Soch’s app froze while he was playing in a local park, he spotted what appeared to be a dishevelled man harassing a woman and her three children. The man was approached by the Marines and duly left, but he was seen again moments later in the park allegedly inappropriately touching young boys. When they intervened again and reported him to the police, it turned out the man was wanted by the police on the count of an attempted murder charge in a nearby county.
Soch later told Fox News, “The best thing I can say: Remind yourself that you are not in the phone playing the game. Look around and be more aware.” Wise advice, y’all. Even if that Jigglypuff is about to be yours.
They’ve been helping people currently in hospital and receiving chemotherapy
Pokémon Go hasn’t just been a tool for the foolish, foolhardy and just plain fools across the three territories that the game is currently available to get up to all kinds of Poké-based mischief. The game has also offered a welcome and much-needed escape for hospital patients, who have found that the creatures are available to catch from their hospital beds.
Redditor chubbshoozer said that “in the middle of my chemo treatment, the homie Psyduck decided to sit in the chair and hangout with me”, posting this photo to r/Pokémon:
Finding light in the darkness of times is a rare thing, but the power of Pokémon seems to be doing just that right now – even delivering some rather dark irony to this patient:
As much as the power of Pokémon can clearly inspire some people to do some dumb things, its ability to be a source of comfort and joy for all people, especially those currently battling illness, is a very good thing indeed.
That’s the real power of the franchise; escapism and achievement. I’m gonna catch me a Tangela.