MORE wild stuff that's happened as a result of Pokemon Go
Augmented reality smartphone game Pokemon Go has been out less than a month in the United States, and far less in Germany, Japan, and other territories. That hasn't stopped it from seemingly taking over the entire world, and while hoax viral stories still abound, there are still a lot of real ways Pokemon Go has unexpectedly shaped human life.
So what's happened since the last time we wrote about Pokemon Go infiltrating meatspace?
It's helping save a lot of abandoned and injured animals
In addition to reportedly overwhelming local dog shelters, Pokemon Go seems to regularly bring players in contact with actual wildlife, including many that might have died without human intervention.
Lucy Case from Spencer, New York, was roaming the area for a Dratini when she came upon an injured bat. After ascertaining it wasn't able to move or fly away on its own, she called her local wildlife shelter, which took the critter in for rehabilitation. (They named it Zubat, of course.) 90 miles away in Rochester, New York, a man out huntin' some Pokes found eight ducklings stuck in a storm drain, and on the other side of the country in South Houston, Texas, a pair of trainers discovered a box of hamsters and baby mice abandoned near a Pokestop, at risk of dying from the heat.
Victoria Campbell, owner of the wildlife shelter now taking care of little Zubat (and responsible for the photo above), says the marked uptick in animal rescues resulting from the game is "pretty much the first time I've seen something like this."
It's led to a crapload of littering
If Pokemon Go is bringing out many players' respect for life, it's also making a few less than conscientious. The suburban community of Rhodes in Australia has started throwing eggs and water balloons at nighttime crowds of Pokemon players, who they say are leaving a lot of trash and making the place less safe for residents and children. Even Japan, often stereotyped as impeccably clean and tidy, has its share of rude trainers, leaving neighborhoods filled with litter and overstuffed trash bins. Not cool!
Some local governments are going out of their way to accommodate it...
The German city Düsseldorf is home to the Girardet Bridge, which has Pokestops on either end -- both of which are accessible if you're standing on the bridge itself. As a result, the bridge has become a local hotspot, and rather than tell players to go elsewhere, Mayor Thomas Geisel has asked transport officials to turn the bridge into a pedestrian-only walkway during peak hours. They've also brought in portable toilets and extra trash bins, to head off some of the littering issues other neighborhoods have been experiencing, and local buses are even planning special Pokemon Go routes to take players around to more of the city's hotspots.
...and some want the game gone, pronto
Not all local governments are as keen on Pokemon trainers as the city of Düsseldorf, however. Officials in Rocky Mount, North Carolina want over 130 Pokestops and gyms removed from city property. The official line is they want game nodes removed from potentially unsafe areas, like near power stations and waste treatment plants, which is fair enough -- but the full list of locations they're requesting be removed also includes all city parks, a local sports center, and the Imperial Center for Arts and Sciences. Wouldn't city officials want players visiting those places?
Zoos are getting in on the hype
After discovering it was home to more than 25 Pokestops and several gyms, The Living Desert zoo and conservatory in Palm Desert, California decided it could entice visitors through a special after-hours Pokemon-themed tour of the park. On August 4th, the zoo is rolling out a special PikaZoo event, with lure modules dropped consistently throughout the evening.
It's been banned from several museums and religious sites
Maybe not all of them, granted. This one started happening almost as soon as the game was released, but as Pokemon Go continues its Baudrillard-esque map-preceding-the-territory world domination, caretakers at various museums, cemeteries and religious sites are putting their foot down. How they do so can vary dramatically, though. The Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. has repeatedly asked visitors not to play the game on its property, while the Miyazaki Shrine in Hiroshima, Japan, has a more light-hearted approach, asking visitors to not catch Pokemon who may be there for holy business:
Attempted muggings are still happening
This is the first verified incident I could track down of a gun being fired in the name of Pokemon Go: at 4:00 am on July 25th, 18-year-old Las Vegas resident Elvis Campos and his underage accomplice tried to rob a group of Pokemon players gathered at a park. One of the players threatened turned out to be wearing a gun of his own, with a concealed carry permit -- and drew it on the would-be mugger.
The two exchanged fire, and Campos and one of the players was shot. Both survived and were treated at a nearby hospital. Campos faces a preliminary hearing on August 11th for multiple felony charges including attempted murder and robbery; in the meantime, his bail's been set at $95,000.
There have been car accidents (no fatalities yet though)
No, Pokemon Go still hasn't caused a major freeway pile-up, but it has caused a few traffic incidents. On July 17th, a Baltimore, Maryland driver slammed into a cop car at high speed, and the incident was recorded on the officer's body camera. Baltimore police subsequently released the video on social media as an advisory for other players.
A few days later, on July 24th, a man in Vermont crashed at an intersection and was arrested after officers found he blew a .2 on a breathalyzer test -- which is apparently how drunk you have to be to decide both driving and trying to catch Pokemon is a good idea. Most of us can barely throw those Pokeballs straight when we're sober.
No one was hurt in either of these incidents, thankfully!
A reporter got busted playing it at a U.S. State Department press briefing
This one's just embarrassing. On July 21st, State Department spokesman John Kirby was delivering a press briefing when he noticed a reporter in the audience -- who remains unidentified, somehow -- was not paying the utmost attention.
My favorite part is at the end, when Kirby politely asks if the reporter managed to catch a Pokemon. When the reporter explains he hasn't, because the signal in the room isn't very good, Kirby just says: "Sorry about that."
It got a shout-out at the Democratic National Convention -- and from Hillary Clinton herself
You gotta get that youth vote however you can. As the United States is in a presidential election year, it should come as no surprise that both major political parties have seized upon the Pokemon Go phenomenon for a quick gag. At the Democratic National Convention yesterday, Colorado governor John Hickenlooper asked voters to "put down your Pokemon Go for just a second," to which a member of the audience shouted back "NO."
Then there's Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who tried to oh-so-casually slip a reference in during a campaign stop. So smooth, bet you didn't even notice.
Lastly and most importantly, it's directly responsible for this adorable George Takei sighting
This man is a national treasure. Protect him.
(Top image source: @pokemongohaijin on Twitter.)