Cute, fuzzy Pokémon are running amok on planet Earth, and humans are braving crazy conditions to catch them. It seems there’s nothing people won’t do to hatch, snatch and evolve the little buggers, even driving and Pokémoning, a.k.a. risking death.
The chase is on thanks to Nintendo’s new Pokémon Go game. In case you live under a rock and haven’t heard yet, it’s an addictive augmented reality smartphone app. It sends players on a wild goose chase after all kinds of Pokémon superimposed onto real landscapes. It’s a literal chase, nudging gamers off their duffs, onto their feet and into the streets, IRL. Created by the San Francisco-based startup Niantic Labs, a game maker spun out of Google, the free mobile app launched in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand last week.
Within hours of its much-anticipated July 6 release, the scavenger hunt runaway hit skyrocketed to the top grossing app everywhere it’s available. The mad rush crippled Niantic’s servers for a time, blew the app up bigger than Tinder and helped a long-crippled Nintendo seriously level up. Shares of the struggling Japanese company soared on the heels of the fantasy game’s unexpected success, adding $7.5 billion to its market value in only two days.
One glance at your Twitter feed and it might seem like we’re already at peak Pokémon Go fever, but, sorry kids, we’re not even close. The proof is in the pics. Pics upon pics upon pics of Pokémon, leaping from the frying pan into the campfire -- and everywhere else.
Because even we apparently can’t get enough of this nascent “ national obsession,” we’ve put together a quick list of the nuttiest things that are happening...out there in the real world because of Pokémon’s fake world. You can’t make this stuff up. Here are eight weird and wacky things that have happened because of Pokémon Go so far:
1. A dude caught a Pidgey while his wife gave birth.
In what could be interpreted as grounds for divorce, a man-child by the name of Jonathan Theriot felt the urge to catch a Pidgey Pokémon whilst his wife gave birth to a different kind of creature, a living, breathing and actually animated human that they made together. He humble bragged the Kodak life moment on Imgur with the touching caption: “When your wife is about to have a baby and a Pokemon shows up and you have to low-key catch it…” Unfortunately for the new mum’s sake, we’re not kidding. Check the charming pic-or-it-didn’t-happen evidence:
Hopefully the baby won’t be a little monster, too. Yikes, did we just say that out loud?
2. One girl found a dead body.
Poor kid. Shayla Wiggens was on the trail of a Pokémon when she spotted a corpse floating in a Wyoming’s Big Wind River. The 19-year-old made the morbid discovery last Friday after jumping a fence to capture one of the wiley cartoon creatures. When asked by CNN if finding the dead body would stop her from playing the game, she said, “I might go get a water Pokémon. I’m going to try.” Now that’s dedication.
"I probably would have never went down there if it weren't for this game," Wiggins reflected. "But in a way, I'm thankful. I feel like I helped find his body. He could have been there for days."
3. Robbers used it to dupe unsuspecting victims.
The cheeky hide-and-seek game has been used to catch more than Snorlax, Blaziken and Lucario. Four teenage hooligans used it yesterday as bait to catch victims to pull off a rash of alleged armed robberies in the O’Fallon, Mo. area. “The way we believe (the app) was used is you can add a beacon to a Pokéstop to lure more players,” the O’Fallon Police Department wrote on its Facebook Page.
“Apparently they were using the app to locate ppl standing around in the middle of the parking lot or whatever other location they were in.” The department later confirmed that three of the suspects were charged with first-degree robbery and armed criminal action. They’re headed up to the big house now. Whoops, No “ soft-reset” for you, GPS-snooping ne'er–do–wells. Game over.
4. Players are getting hurt.
From biffing on skateboards to tripping over their own feet to walking into trees, Pokémon Go-ers are increasingly traversing a slippery, dangerous slope in hot pursuit of Fitzybutts and Pikachus. The game’s loading-screen warning for players to mind their surroundings to avoid real-world pain doesn’t appear to be working well, as user injury reports continue to pour in.
"Pokemon Go put me in the ER last night," one player, going by the handle of “Amalthea-”, claimed on a subreddit devoted to the insanely popular diversion. "Not even 30 minutes after the release last night, I slipped and fell down a ditch," the Redditor wrote. “Fractured the fifth metatarsal bone in my foot, 6-8 weeks for recovery. I told all the doctors I was walking my dog lol... Watch where you're going, folks!"
Administrators at a medical school in Arizona were even moved to warn students to “approach [Pokémon] with caution and remember to look up from your phone to prevent tripping or running into something.” Yep, new low.
5. Players’ legs are growing sore. Reallllly sore, man.
How many steps does it take to snag a Bulbasaur without getting sore? Ask the gazillion players whining about their weary shins, thighs, feet and quads on social media and you’ll have your answer. Thanks to Pokémon Go, #accidentallyexercising is now a thing and apparently it can be pretty painful. Hey, at least gamers are up and moving. Bonus: Vitamin D.
6. Dogs are getting walked more.
Canines, real and really adorable furball pets, as opposed to mere imaginary Pokémon creatures, are reaping the physical bennies, too. “Venturing outside and searching for wild Pokémon is far more compelling than I expected it to be,” player Joe Relton told The Guardian. “It’d be fair to say that my dog has never been walked so much in her life.”
7. People are driving and Pokémoning like damned fools.
Because of course they are. There’s only so much Charizard-chasing you can suffer on foot, right? Hold your steering wheels tight, because Pokémon Go fever has gotten so bad out there on the roadways that police departments and schools are issuing warnings to remind people to, hellllo, please stop Pokémoning and simultaneously operating vehicles. You’d think that would go without saying, but no.
The dangerous growing trend spurred the Washington State Department of Transportation to tweet out this warning, complete with an eye-catching Pokémon GIF: “If your weekend includes looking for #Eevee on #PokemonGO, please do so safely. No Pokemoning from behind the wheel.”
Oh, and did you hear the one about that massive accident caused by a Poké-player? Turns out it was it was nothing but a tall tale.
8. People are wandering into the wildest places.
Oh, the places you’ll go when you Pokémon Go. On the desperate hunt for monsters and items in various “PokéStops”and “Gyms,” players are hoofing it into all stripes of strange real-world “landmarks,” from strip clubs to sex shops and everywhere in between. A man by the name of Louis Park even caught a creature “ on the Mosul front line by Teleskuf” in the war on ISIS, if you can believe it.