Today is Pokemon Go‘s one-year anniversary, and the mobile phenomenon has a bright future thanks to new features, a growing fan base, and more monsters on the way. But it’s also generated more than its share of weird news. From government freakouts to players hunting Pokemon and finding far, far more than they bargained for, here’s a look back at a year of strange scoops.
So, So Many Accidents
Pokemon Go encourages people to go out in the world, but it also encourages them to look at a screen while doing it, and, well, you can guess what happened. The stories of injuries started flying in almost immediately, and Japan had its first accident just hours after the game debuted there. Rare Pokemon have caused several stampedes, two players were so wrapped up they walked off a cliff, while others have fallen into mud pits, stumbled into minefields, and, inevitably, people too lazy to actually walk got behind the wheel and crashed their cars while trying to take a gym.
Gotta Arrest ‘Em All
Some of the messes Pokemon Go trainers got themselves into were decidedly self-inflicted. Trainers have broken into zoos, loitered in parks so long local police started handing out tickets, blundered onto private property and nearly gotten shot. They’ve been arrested for slashing tires at a fire station after that station had a Pokestop pulled and have even gotten arrested for ‘terroristic threats’ after some poorly considered statements. Of course, not all arrests were due to the game; it turns out that even criminals like Pokemon Go, to the point where they’ll forget there’s an outstanding warrant for their arrest until it’s too late.
Wherever there’s something innocuous that brings joy to the masses, there’s some humorless bureaucrat who wants it gone. Iran and Russia, in particular, haven’t been fans of catching them all, with Iran outright banning the game over “privacy concerns”. But at least their argument was within a Pokeball’s throw of making sense, unlike the Russian authorities, who started arresting people for playing the game because they were afraid it was going to start a revolution. Instead, Russian authorities issued a game where you stuff Stalin in your balls. On the other hand, players found an unlikely friend in Al Franken, who asked some pointed questions about the app’s privacy protections.
Is That Corpse A Pokestop?
One of the more worrying trends is Pokemon Go players stumbling over dead bodies. The game had only been out two days when a player stumbled over a dead body and then a week or so later, another corpse turned up. Pokemon Go players have also found loaded guns and murder suspects, but we’ll spare you the “catch ’em all” joke.
But It’s Not All Bad
That said, there have been some heartwarming moments, too. The Pokemon Go community has stood up to bullies, helped animal shelters walk their dogs, driven more traffic to local businesses, and there’s even the touching story of a Pokemon fan who passed away in 2012 getting a gym located at his grave, to the delight of his family. Really, at its best, the game brings us together. Just, hopefully, not over a rare Snorlax, because come on, some of us want a crack at the gym.