In just a week, "Pokemon Go" has captured the world's attention, and for good reason. Aside from renewing interest in the legendary pocket monsters, the mobile game has taken augmented reality technology and exposed it to an audience of untold millions. The result has been a series of anecdotes and news stories that either prove that technology can be a force for discovery and prosocial behavior, or another sign that we are falling into a dystopia.
The most famous one so far comes from Wyoming, where a 19-year-old woman walked down to a river with her phone to see if she could find a Poliwag or another water Pokemon. Instead, she found a dead body.
Meanwhile, in Wellington, New Zealand, a pair of gamers found a gym located out in the middle of the ocean. They rented a kayak to paddle out to the spot, only to discover that the man they rented the kayak from was not only playing the game, too, but was also on the team that controlled the offshore gym.
"Pokemon Go" has also given rise to a new cottage industry for rideshare drivers. For a fee, drivers are offering to drive gamers around neighborhoods to make it easier to find Pokemon and item stops without having to walk around. So if you're not interested in actually getting exercise while playing the game, Poke'Uber is here to give you a shortcut.
Another startup company called PokeWalk is offering to train Pokemon by taking gamers' phones and going out for a walk with them. The company also promises a refund if its runners cannot come back with more Pokemon for the customer's collection.
For some, playing the game has caused them to have a serious existential crisis. One YouTuber put up a vlog talking about how she got sick of trainers coming in to her place of work to catch Pokemon, only to get hooked on the game when she tried to catch all the Pokemon sitting in her building. "So now I'm like, 'Aw, go to the back, make a left, Zubat's over there!'...I wanna catch 'em, but I feel stupid. This is not where I saw myself at 27 years old."
Redditor Jonathan Theriot probably didn't see himself playing a game like this when his wife went into labor. Yet there he was, trying to catch a Pidgey hiding under his wife in the delivery room.
Now for the darker side of "Pokemon Go." Police reports show that armed robbers are using the game's geolocation and incense features to lure unsuspecting gamers to secluded areas with the hopes of catching a rare Pokemon.
The game has also generated a stop at Auschwitz, where photos have surfaced of people finding Rattatas next to signs at the infamous Nazi death camp. Niantic, the game's developer, had a similar problem with their previous hit AR game, "Ingress," which set up gaming spots at museums and war memorials.
An Australian man was fired from his job at a real estate company in Singapore when he wrote a Facebook rant complaining about not being able to download "Pokemon Go" in the country. The rant included claims that Singapore was filled with "stupid people" and that the national IQ would drop if he were to leave.
At Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, WA, soldiers have been found entering restricted areas while searching for Pokemon. "Since 'Pokemon Go' hit last week, there have been reports of serious injuries and accidents of people driving or walking while looking at the app and chasing after the virtual Pokemon," reads a warning posted to the base's Facebook page. "Do not chase Pokemon into controlled or restricted areas, office buildings or homes on base."