Getting hurt, mugged and even finding a dead body with Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go, a new smartphone game based on cute Nintendo characters like Squirtle and Pikachu, is an "augmented reality" game which layers gameplay onto the physical world.

'It vibrated to let me know there was something nearby and I looked up and just fell in a hole'

Just days after being made available in the U.S., the mobile game Pokemon Go has jumped to become the top-grossing app in the App Store. (Richard Vogel/Associated Press)

In order to be the very best, sometimes you might get hurt.

Pokemon Go, a new smartphone game based on cute Nintendo characters like Squirtle and Pikachu, is an "augmented reality" game which layers gameplay onto the physical world.

But players already have reported wiping out in a number of ways as they wander the real world — eyes glued to their smartphone screens — in search of digital pocket monsters.

Mike Schultz, a 21-year-old communications graduate on Long Island, New York, took a spill on his skateboard as he stared at his phone while cruising for critters early Thursday. He cut his hand on the sidewalk after hitting a big crack, and blames himself for going too slowly.

Mike Schultz got injured when he crashed his skateboard while playing Pokemon Go. (Mike Schultz/Associated Press)

"I just wanted to be able to stop quickly if there were any Pokemons nearby to catch," he said. "I don't think the company is really at fault."

The game became the top grossing app in the iPhone app store just days after its Wednesday release in the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

Pokestops all over

It was created by Niantic Inc., a San Francisco spinoff of Google parent Alphabet Inc. that previously became known for a similar augmented-reality game called Ingress.

Here's how you play:

  • Fire up the game and start trekking to prominent local landmarks — represented in the game as "Pokestops" — where you can gather supplies like Pokeballs.
  • Walk around until you find Pokemon and then fling Pokeballs to try and capture them for training.
  • At other locations called "gyms" — which may or may not be actual gyms in the real world — Pokemon battle one another for supremacy.

Naturally, the game has also induced people to post pictures of themselves on social media chasing creatures in all sorts of dangerous situations.

Zubats and Paras have appeared on car dashboards. Caterpies have been spotted at intersections. Ankle injuries, mishaps with revolving doors and walking into trees have been among the painful results.

The game has gotten players into a whole bunch of weird, shocking situations.

Finding a dead body: 19-year-old Shayla Wiggins was looking for a Pokestop down by the river last week in her hometown of Riverton, Wyoming, when she stumbled upon a man's body in the water. The Fremont County Sheriff's Office told local media that a body was found by Wiggins; they suspect the death was caused by drowning.

No Sandshrews in the police stationPolice in Darwin, Australia, put out a plea telling Pokemon Go players to stop coming into the police station. They said the station was featured as a Pokestop and that users were coming in to gather Pokeballs. "You don't actually have to step inside in order to gain the Pokeballs," the Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services clarified on Facebook.

A Pokemon-fuelled armed robbery?: The police department in O'Fallon, Missouri, said the game may have been responsible for an armed robbery early Sunday morning. They explained in a Facebook post: "You can add a beacon to a Pokestop to lure more players. Apparently they were using the app to locate people standing around in the middle of a parking lot or whatever other location they were in."

It's sending me where?: Pokemon Go players have been sharing all sorts of bizarre places the app has been taking them and where Pokemon have been showing up. The list includes toilet stalls, graveyards, the Church of Scientology ... even strip clubs. Gotta catch 'em all!

Kyrie Tompkins, a 22-year-old freelance web designer, fell on the sidewalk and twisted her ankle while wandering in downtown Waterville, Maine, on Thursday night.

"It vibrated to let me know there was something nearby and I looked up and just fell in a hole," she said. Her parents had to drive her and her fiancé home.

As an upside, players get more exercise than usual and can learn more about the historical landmarks incorporated into the game as Pokestops. Digital signposts describe their significance in the real world.

Pokemon renaissance?

And players are actually meeting face to face, despite the fact they arrived at nearby high schools, water towers and museums by staring at their screens.

Lindsay Plunkett, a 23-year-old waitress in Asheville, North Carolina, made a point on Friday of parking six blocks away from the restaurant where she works, instead of the usual three.

"Just so I could get some more Pokestops on the way," she said.

She's still nursing a bruised shin from the previous night, when she and her boyfriend spent hours wandering downtown in the rain. She tripped over a cinder block that had been used as a doorstop at a local women's museum.

Lindsay Plunkett bruised her shin after she tripped over a cinder block that had been used as a doorstop while playing Pokemon Go. (Justin Harrison/Associated Press)

But she's got something to look forward to. Soon, she'll be travelling cross country to California with a friend. That means more chances to encounter Pokestops and Pokemons "the whole way," she said.

At least the game has one failsafe — you can't hatch digital eggs while driving. That requires slower in-person movement in the real world.

"It doesn't count as walking if you're going more than 20 miles per hour, so that's good, I guess," Plunkett said.

With files from Haydn Watters


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