The “Pokemon Go” phenomenon, which has sparked controversy at sites such as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, has prompted a safety warning from the U.S. military’s sprawling Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
The free augmented reality game uses Google Maps and a smartphone to overlay reality with digital creatures, or Pokemon. Players use their smartphones to ‘capture’ Pokemon, at real locations using their smartphones and can also ‘train’ their Pokemon to fight other creatures within the game.
However, the phenomenally successful game is fueling public safety fears over distracted pedestrians and dangerous trespassing.
Set against this backdrop, Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington, has issued a warning about the game.
“DO NOT chase Pokémon into controlled or restricted areas, office buildings, or homes on base,” it said, in a Facebook post aimed at “budding Pokemon Trainers using Pokemon Go on JBLM.”
The base also urged players to be careful when crossing parking lots and roads. “It’s a good idea to look up, away from your phone and both ways before crossing streets,” it said. “That Pokémon isn’t going anywhere fast.”
Joint Base Lewis-McChord is home to the 2nd Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment, 1st Special Forces Group, the Army’s I Corps and the Air Force’s 62nd Airlift Wing, according to Military.com.
Citing Department of Defense officials, Military.com reports there are no plans to issue “Pokemon GO” guidance across the military or rules for playing the in and around the Pentagon.
The game was involved in a security incident at an Indonesian military base this week when a player wandered onto the facility while hunting Pokemon. Indonesian police say they detained the Frenchman who trespassed on a military base in Cirebon, 118 miles east of the country’s capital, Jakarta.
A spokesman for West Java police said that Romain Pierre, 27, was caught at a checkpoint on Monday evening after initially running away when challenged by security guards at the military complex in Cirebon.
Pierre was released a few hours later because it became apparent "he unintentionally entered the complex as he was hunting Pokemon while jogging," the police spokesman, Col. Yusri Yunus, said Tuesday.
“Pokemon GO” has enjoyed incredible popularity since its launch July 6. Digital market intelligence specialist SimilarWeb reported July 14 that the game had overtaken Pandora, Twitter, Netflix, Google Hangouts and Spotify for daily use in the U.S.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.