Facebook > Email > More Pinterest Print Twitter Play

Texas’s PokéWoes

Robberies. Car accidents. Snake bites.

By Comments

A group of Pokemon Go players check their smartphones as they look for Pokemon, Tuesday, July 12, 2016, at Bayfront Park in downtown Miami. The Pokemon Go craze has sent legions of players hiking around cities and battling with "pocket monsters" on their smartphones. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Pokémon Go has quickly become a cultural phenomenon. In the location-based mobile game, players walk around their surroundings trying to catch Pokémon that appear on their screens, bringing the characters once confined to Game Boys and cards to life (or, at least, put them in an augmented reality). Pokémon Go has worked its way into late night television monologues. It’s gotten the most physically lazy generation of all time more active than First Lady Michelle Obama could have ever possibly dreamed. People are seriously debating if a video game about “pocket monsters” is cruel to animals. Pokémon Go has a uniquely strong presence across the country, but has roots, woes, and mania deep in the heart of Texas.

Niantic Inc., the company that developed Pokémon Go, was founded by John Hanke, a native of Northwest Texas and a graduate of the University of Texas. Apparently, in 2014, Hanke found inspiration for the game by way of one of those absolutely insane, there’s no way that’s real April Fool’s jokes—a video that mashed Google Maps with Pokémon. Fast forward two years, and a location-based Pokémon game has become a reality.

And everyone is getting in on it. Texas A&M opened up Kyle Field to trainers, and according to ESPN, after an overnight social media post, people turned up in droves the following afternoon. The official tally was 1,604.

That’s all fine and good in a controlled space, but it seems that amateur Pokémon trainers are giving Texas A&M’s police a headache. TAMU’s police department has a Twitter account dedicated to its incidents, arrests, and warnings of suspicious characters and such. Recently, it’s achieved semi-viral status with tweets about PokéPerps.

Law enforcement’s involvement with Pokémon Go has kept the game in the news cycle almost constantly. A Texas man was arrested after he threatened to “purge” all who played the game with “modified paintball guns,” and a growing list of individuals have been robbed while engaged in the virtual romp. Eric Aranda of Garland and his brother were mugged and beat while playing the game in an unfamiliar neighborhood. A player was robbed at gunpoint while sitting at bus stop in Austin.

Pokémon Go players are easy targets because they aren’t wholly aware of their surroundings. Players’ fixation on mobile screens has also made the roads a little more dangerous, prompting the Texas Department of Transportation to weigh in:

“Y’all. Please don’t make us have to create a campaign called “Don’t Pokemon-Go and Drive.” We know you have to catch them all, but only look for Pokemon when you are not behind the wheel. Also, don’t stop traffic just for PokeStops, and don’t cross the street without paying attention. #WeShouldntHaveToTellYouThis #TalkTextCrash #PokemonGo”

Some businesses and landmarks have seen a rise in revenue and foot traffic thanks to an abundance of catchable Pokémon, but distracted, wandering strangers aren’t particularly good for hospitals. The Denton Regional Medical Center has been subject to players congregating and playing near a helipad and emergency lane. A spokesperson for the hospital told CBS DFW that “there have been a lot of people coming in checking out the helipad…checking out the ER. Wandering around with their heads down looking at their phones.”

And they’ll need to keep the ER accessible: A teen in Flower Mound earned a trip to the ER while playing Pokémon Go. Lane Smith, a flip-flop wearing eighteen-year-old, was walking around near a park, consumed by the game, when he was bitten by a copperhead snake on his big toe. I’m not sure catching a Zubat or Ekans is worth a snake bite. Or a robbery. Or any of the dangerous things that these trainers have subjected themselves to. Stay safe and aware out there, and catch ’em all, y’all.

Related Content

  • missmaei

    Humanity is officially doomed

  • OM

    Another Texan hits the mark. GO, TEXAS! SOO proud.

  • Go_Down_Moses

    Where are we? And what is with this handbasket?