Police in Missouri have reported the arrest of four men in connection with a series of robberies targeting players of the just released Pokemon GO app.
The suspects are thought to have been using the game’s “lures”, which encourage Pokemon to congregate in the area, to entice players of the game to their location. As random Pokemon trainers arrive the men emerge and relieve them of their valuables. Including the phones on which their victims had been playing the game.
It’s a smart, if despicable, way to take advantage of everyone’s current Pokemon GO infatuation. And it’s another reminder for players to pay attention to their surroundings while out hunting.
On a related note, a Pokemon GO player who was paying attention to her surroundings discovered a man’s corpse.
Police in that case say there does not appear to have been any foul play, the man drowned after entering the water by himself. The young girl who made the discovery is probably not particularly comforted by that fact.
It’s not all doom and gloom surrounding the app, of course. Aside from things like the very well attended Pokemon GO walks over the weekend (more on those later!) there are players reporting the game has helped them cope with mental health issues.
For a lot of people depression can mean even finding the will to get out of bed each day can be too much. Sufferers of social anxiety will get up, but not leave the house for fear of awkward encounters in the real world. While not strictly a mental health issue, a lot of people are also just feeling a bit sad thanks to violence, politics or other events in the world.
It seems that the lure of capturing small cartoonish monsters and fleeting but positive encounters with strangers is a winning combination for a lot of these people. A quick “hello” and a sharing of intel and experiences, or even simply leaving the house and not having a horrible time of it is really lifting a lot of people’s spirits. BuzzFeed collated a bunch of these feel-good stories and it’s really quite heartwarming.
Obviously you will not be cured of all your mental illnesses upon loading Pokemon GO and it is not, in any way, a replacement for seeking professional help. But as someone who is not inclined to engage in spurious conversations in the real world I have found myself saying hello to strangers on two separate occasions.
… and if you’re already playing the game but struggling to find names for all your new monster friends, why not let autocorrect take over for you? If I ever find a Meowth I am totally naming him Keith.