Perhaps you have seen people wandering around with their face in a phone, more than usual? Perhaps you have heard them exclaim that they have found a “Pokestop!” or a “wild Charmander?”
Perhaps you have even heard of the new craze, which is a mobile game called Pokemon GO. In it, mobile phone users become wily Pokemon trainers, wandering their communities in search of wacky Japanese creatures that they can capture with a Pokeball, which they collect at various Pokestops within their communities.
In other words: Pokemon GO is a form of community street art, getting a variety of people, ranging from grown humans to small humans who have swiped their mother’s phones out looking for Pokemon. Pokemon can appear almost anywhere, ranging from the intersection of Lake and Hennepin, to small parks in suburbia. Pokestops can be any number of places, ranging again from small parks in suburbia to the Lake Harriet bandshell. (Note: I don’t know that the bandshell is a Pokestop, but it should be.)
People are getting hurt playing this game, because they are doing things they should not. People are also being nuisances playing this game, because of course they are! So, on behalf of all people using streets, including other Pokemon Trainers, let us review some basic safety tips to enhance everyone’s pleasure in playing this nice game!
- Don’t Mix Pokemon GO and Roads
Know where you are at all times. Don’t stand in a street to try to catch a Pokemon unless you’re really sure about the street (like a dead end suburban cul de sac, maybe). Don’t stop in a crosswalk to catch a Pokemon. Don’t block access to driveways or side streets to catch a Pokemon or battle another trainer. You get the idea, right?And if you see someone doing something stupid and can keep them from getting run over? Yeah, do that.
- Don’t Mix Pokemon GO and Railroad Tracks
This may seem like an obvious offshoot of #1 but given past history, we are calling it out. Train tracks are not for walking on, standing on, or playing Pokemon GO on. Ever. (The locational range for most activities is such that you can probably catch things from a safe distance; if you can’t be safe, you shouldn’t be catching it.)
- Be Careful In and Near Water
Squirtle’s in the middle of that lake? Okay. Do you have a kayak and a waterproof phone case? Are you a strong swimmer? This is probably most important near rivers.
- Don’t Mix Pokemon GO and Driving
We’re all aware distracted driving is bad by now, right? Throwing Pokeballs at a Squirtle is just as bad as texting someone; it may even be worse. If your phone buzzes and you absolutely cannot resist, stop and park safely.
- Don’t Be a Jerk on Public Transit
Maybe those people on the bus with you are Pokemon trainers, and not checking their work emails on the commute! Hooray! But unless it’s the same crew all the time, if you don’t know where someone’s stop is it’s a jerk move to challenge them to a battle when they may not have the time to see it through before having to bail off the bus or train.
- Be Considerate of Business Owners
If you are entering a business location because of a Pokemon or Pokestop located there, do not be a jerk. If you have no reason to patronize that business, don’t go in. Being an irritant to storekeepers is not sociable, and Pokemon GO is meant to be sociable.
- Respect Private Spaces
This should be obvious, right? It apparently hasn’t been to everyone. While the software developers have tried to crowdsource public access locations for Pokestops and Gyms, it’s not like they were all selected by hand. Use some sense.
- Loved Ones Come First
If you are visiting your grandma, put the phone down. Grandma is more real than Pokemon are. If your kid is not the one playing Pokemon GO, you should still keep an eye on him/her, and maybe even push him/her on the swing after getting the Pokeballs in that location.
- Be Respectful to Innocent Bystanders
Not everyone will be playing Pokemon GO, believe it or not! That lady over there may be texting her daycare about why her child is throwing chairs like a heavy metal drummer backstage! That other person may just want to get to the 10-items-or-less lane at the grocery store. No screaming in public, okay?
- Be Friendly, Not Creepy
Because you can see nearby trainers and teams, this may be a chance to be sociable with new people with a proven mutual interest. This is neat! But if someone doesn’t want to talk to you, don’t be a jerk about it. And don’t follow them around or declare battle just to get their attention after they’ve said no. No always means no, even in low-impact settings like Pokemon GO.
Let’s be careful out there.
Brilliant! I’m an introverted 40-something. Constantly worried I’m out of the expected age range, who people will see as verging on old-dude-creep.
Regarding point 6. You can typically access stops or gyms from about 10-30 yds. away. So you shouldn’t need to enter a business etc. to access the points (which are based on a crowd sourced data set collected in public spaces through a previous game). Or at least I haven’t encountered any such points but I’m in a suburban setting.
Regarding point 5. You can’t battle anyone who just happens to be by you, at least not yet. You can only battle at gyms which require you to be near those locations.
It appears there are a good number of gyms near Transit Stops. Major ones. So that’s why I mentioned that.
There are definitely some Stops here in the Scenic Anoka County Suburbs that aren’t accessible from the parking lots of certain places. I swear: Half of Fridley’s stops are in liquor stores and funeral parlors.
I’ve heard most of the stops around the 3M campus aren’t accessible to non-employees. While in the Ingress (the “previous game”) portal submission rules that shouldn’t be the case, not all the portals/stops were vetted closely.
There are a lot of gyms & Pokestops at Transit stops because there’s a lot of public art at those locations. Even when there isn’t art there, it’s a public meeting point, like a water tower or a church. I haven’t heard how the gym locations were determined, but it seems like it was based, at least in part, on the amount of activity at the corresponding Ingress portal. So the busiest portals in a relatively small area were made gyms; the rest simply stops.
Pokemon Go is building a huge geo-database that tracks gamers. I have been saying we need that for years. Great first step.
We already have one. Foursquare is selling their geolocation data.
When was the last time used foursqaure? 2011?
It actually continues to have a very rich data set in many cities. It’s being used for ad targeting.
Oof regarding number 10. About an hour ago I noticed a young man park his car in front of my house and then he got out with a smart phone in his hand and followed a young woman who was walking towards the park down the street. It certainly seemed a little creepy.