Much like... umm… well, nothing has really taken the world by storm overnight like the Pokémon Go app has, so let’s skip the jokey example to lead in. Pokémon Go has affected the world like no other app has before, and it’s probably due to its augmented reality set-up. It’s a lot of fun and has gotten a lot of people off their couches and actually walking outside their houses. I am, of course, one of these people.
Recently, my girlfriend and I went on a brisk jaunt around her neighborhood (a "Pokéwalk" as she calls it -- make this a thing, Urban Dictionary,), and while walking down a not particularly busy side-street, we encountered a woman constantly stopping her car and glancing down on her phone. She kept swiping up on her screen, and it was evident that this woman was trying to catch Pokémon (or possibly having a stroke). I saw this and immediately knew that, while tons of fun, Pokémon Go desperately needs a safety handbook, so below I have constructed one so they don’t have to!
1. Don’t Pokémon Go and Drive
Seriously, don’t do it. If you are, know that you are contributing to a new a crime that law enforcement will soon make an acronym of called DWPPG, which obviously stands for “Driving while Playing Pokémon Go”. The fact that I haven’t heard of a report about a bus driver playing Pokémon Go and then running over a pedestrian, who is also flicking Poké balls at a rare Dratini in the middle of a crosswalk, is a blessing. Which brings me to my next tip…
2. Know Your Surroundings
Yes, the game does warn this in the beginning, but they use a Gyarados attack as an example, which is not plausible. Buses are the land-Gyaradoses of our reality. What else can happen if you stare at the screen all the time is falling down a set of subway stairs (I saw this when Blackberrys first came out), walking off a bridge or building and then looking down to realize you’re about to die, falling down a manhole (classic silent movie-style), etc. No matter what, if your eyes are glued to your screen while walking, you WILL die… or you’ll have serious back problems from hunching over. Either way, things aren’t looking healthy for you.
3. Know What Poké BallsAre
If you’re part of the Coachella crowd, or like to look on Urban Dictionary a lot (another shout out, UD, get our word going already!), then you may know that Poké balls can also be slang term for MDMA, or ecstasy, or mollie. And for the record, no matter what a drug dealer says, whether you know them or not, neither of you knows if you’re actually getting pure MDMA or if it’s cut with cat urine. So no matter what, when a stranger says they would like to give you some Poké balls, don’t take them (or do if that’s your kind of party; no judgments). But this brings me to another tip…
4. Stay Away From Strangers
We all learned as children to not get into cars or accept candy from strangers, but I have a feeling that as grown adults playing a Pokémon game we may have forgotten that. Plus, this game has candy in it. No matter what, though, a stranger doesn’t have that final piece of Rhyhorn candy you need to evolve up to Rhydon. All they want is bad things from you, like snatching you away and get that sweet rent check money your parents are paying you every month as ransom.
5. Don’t Go to Sketchy Places at Night (DGSPN)
Plain and simple: If you wouldn’t go to this place during the day, why would you go there at night? No joke, lately people have gotten robbed at night in places with lots of Pokémon because they went into dimly-lit, sketchy areas, and were often alone! Which brings me to my next point…
6. Buddy Up
Hit the streets with a friend or a group of friends. This game may be on your screen alone, but everybody is connected in looking for the same Pokémon in the same area. Team up and capture the hoard together! If you don’t have friends, then you probably have bigger problems than getting robbed while playing Pokémon Go.
7. Carry Weapons
Yes, because I know you’re going to ignore the last two tips since you’ve really got to get one of those mythical birds for yourself that some unemployed whack job claims to have found in the game’s code, so when you hit the streets, at least have some officially branded Breast Cancer Awareness mace if not a medieval weapon with spiked ball and chain. A mugger tries to mug you then you mug them, because unfortunately your Pokémon can’t actually protect you in this reality.
8. Know the Difference
This one refers to Pokémon on your screen and actual animals that are on your screen and the ground in front of you. Sure, we all want to catch Ekans and evolve it to Arbok, but you’ll never be able to do that if a real venomous snake bites you. And no, those potions you never use that you get at Pokémon Stops can’t help you, as well as those revive crystals. You’re pretty much screwed; however, oddly enough you’re 12 Rattata will feast upon your rotting corpse… starting with your eyes.
9. Read the Room
Guys, I can't stress this enough -- do not, I repeat, DO NOT go hunting for Pokémon at Holocaust memorial sites. I don’t care if Mew and MewTwo are held up there, stop trying to catch 'em all on a land where countless (there is a count, and it’s high) people died at the hands of some sick b@st@rds. It's just not respectful. Don't do it.
Lastly, this isn’t a safety tip but basically we have all given Pokémon Go’s company Niantic full reign over our Google accounts. In the event of a hack, or if you’re up to some illegal stuff, well, we’re all screwed! Cheers to Pokémon Go, the most fun I’ve ever had looking like a lunatic on the side of the road outside a fast food restaurant at 2AM on a Friday night!
To illustrate our point, check out this video of one Pokémon Go adventure gone horribly wrong!