When Pokémon Go first arrived in July 2016, nobody could have predicted just how successful it would be. Much as in previous instalments, the game involves catching and training virtual Pokémon. However, unlike its predecessors, Pokémon Go uses augmented reality to set the game in the real world. Since its release, then, the game has grown larger than both Tinder and Twitter in the U.S. and has been installed over 100 million times. But while the geocaching app is great for getting people out of the house and exploring new places, it has also led to some shocking – and at times tragic – incidents.
20. The woman who found a corpse
In early July 2016, for instance, a 19-year-old woman in Wyoming stumbled upon a dead body while trying to catch a Pokémon near the Wind River. Floating in the water was the corpse of 28-year-old Jeffrey Day, who is thought to have died less than a day before.
19. The guys who fell off a cliff
It’s particularly important to watch where you’re going while playing Pokémon Go. Nobody knows that more than the two guys who walked off a cliff while staring at their smartphone screens. Luckily, neither of the pair in Encinitas, California, were seriously injured – yet it could easily have been much worse.
18. The man who was stabbed for being friendly
And cliff faces aren’t the only thing you need to watch out for. In Oregon a man was stabbed for asking an individual if he was also playing Pokémon Go. Rather than immediately seeking medical help, however, 21-year-old Michael Baker continued to attempt to catch Pokémon. Seems like people will do anything for a Snorlax.
17. The teens who got trapped in mines
While a key part of the Pokémon Go experience is discovering new places, sometimes you can go too far. One bunch of teens in England managed to get trapped 100 feet underground in a mine system. The worst part? They didn’t even find any Pokémon down there.
16. The Baltimore man who drove into a cop car
Probably, there’s going to be a new charge for cops to levy on the public pretty soon. DUIP, or “driving under the influence of Pokémon.” Just look at the guy in Baltimore who drove into a stationary police car while playing the game. In fact, Australian police have already issued a formal threat of fines and penalties against anyone playing while driving.
15. The people who play at a former concentration camp
There’s a time and a place to go hunting for Pokémon, and that place is certainly not Auschwitz. But that apparently hasn’t stopped some people. The team behind the conservation of the one-time concentration camp called visitors playing the game in the area “disrespectful on so many levels.” It’s hard to disagree with that sentiment.
14. The cheater who got caught red-handed
Adulterers beware – Pokémon Go might just be your downfall. It certainly was for Evan Scribner when his girlfriend caught him at his ex’s house while using the app’s geolocation feature that records your Pokémon-capturing history. Oops… Well, at least he now has some more time to play Pokémon Go on his own.
13. The abandoned animals found in South Houston
Not every Pokémon Go story has been an untold tragedy, however. In fact, Matthew Teague and Sara Perez actually rescued 27 mice and hamsters after stumbling upon an abandoned cage in South Houston. The animals were given to a local shelter, where they were appropriately given the names of Pokémon before being made available for adoption.
12. The journalist who plummeted from a pier
Further illustrating the need to be aware of your surroundings, IGN writer Andrew Goldfarb tumbled off a pier while chasing a Dragonair Pokémon. Thankfully, he only suffered mild injuries, though he admitted that he protected his phone above all else while falling. Great priorities.
11. The Olympic athlete who got the phone bill to end all phone bills
Plenty of crazy stories have come out of the 2016 Olympics, but before they even began, the games had proved disastrous for Japanese athlete Kohei Uchimura. The gymnast racked up a $5,000 phone bill while using data roaming to play Pokémon Go in São Paulo.
10. The country that has banned the app altogether
Still, not everyone is happy with Pokémon Go. Due to vague “security concerns,” the app is actually banned in Iran. The reasons still haven’t been explicitly outlined by the High Council of Virtual Spaces, the ruling body that made the decision. Of course, that hasn’t stopped many Iranians from playing the game anyway…
9. The man who was fatally shot near a Pokéstop
Those security concerns may not be totally unfounded, however. Most notably, college baseball player Calvin Riley tragically lost his life at the age of 20 while playing the game in July 2016, after he was shot dead in the vicinity of a Pokéstop at San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Square.
8. The pair who broke into a zoo
Since Pokéstops and Pokémon have been placed all over the world, a few were bound to turn up in inaccessible locations. Yet, that doesn’t excuse those who needlessly risk their lives trying to access them. Robin Bartholomy and Adrian Crawford broke into Toledo Zoo in Ohio at night – and were subsequently arrested for trespassing when found close to the tiger exhibit.
7. The Marines who caught a man suspected of attempted murder
In some instances, however, the app has actually been a force for good. Indeed, a pair of Marines helped police capture an attempted murder suspect, after spotting him harassing women and children in the street while they were playing Pokémon Go. While they called 911, moreover, the guys made sure that the suspect didn’t escape.
6. The gang that held up and robbed players
Of course, that doesn’t mean that everyone using the app is a master of vigilante justice. A group of criminals in Missouri, for example, were caught using the app to lure victims to a Pokéstop and then robbing them at gunpoint.
5. The player who drove into a tree
Another day, another Pokémon-related car crash. Thankfully, it seems this one, at least, wasn’t fatal, with the driver apparently walking away unscathed after driving straight into a tree in Auburn, New York. Remember the age-old saying: don’t play Pokémon Go and drive.
4. The Bosnian players who could be risking their lives
And while many Pokémon Go players have ventured or trespassed into risky or forbidden areas, few have done so with such immediate danger as those in Bosnia, where leftover landmines are still rampant. Though there have been many years of peace, a minimum of 600 people have lost their lives to mines since 1995. And thanks to Pokémon Go, people are now traversing the high-risk areas more and more frequently.
3. The kids who stole a boat
There are numerous types of Pokémon to catch in the game, including plenty of water creatures. These are often in frustratingly inaccessible places, like rivers, lakes and oceans. Yet one group of teens in England decided that that wouldn’t stop them, however, and stole a boat to go fishing for Pokémon in a lake. XP for persistence, then.
2. The man who was slashed with a razor blade
And in San Jose in July 2016 Pokémon Go was the inadvertent cause of violence once again – after a man mistakenly thought that he was being filmed by a gamer. Indeed, the unfortunate victim was attacked with a razor by the man, providing a lesson to all Pokémon trainers out there to be more aware of their surroundings, including people nearby.
1. The military base where chasing Pokémon is partially prohibited
Part of the fun of Pokémon Go is undoubtedly discovering new locations nearby, but that can prove risky if you’re, say, on an army base. In fact, Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington, has already issued a warning against chasing Pokémon into unauthorized areas of the military facility.