Pokemon Go is proving to be a popular-but-polarizing mobile game, pitting the “get off my lawners” against the “gotta catch ’em all” crowd.
The augmented-reality game sends players into the real world to search for the mythical digital pocket monsters known as Pokemon, who appear onscreen when users hold up their smartphones in various locations at various times of the day. The game was officially released Sunday in Canada, but was available for download via unofficial sources about a week ago.
The scavenger hunt-style game encourages users to walk or bike around, however not everyone is embracing the spirit of the game or respecting the neighbourhoods where they are searching for Pokemon.
On Sunday night, dozens of people flocked to the Village of Griesbach in north Edmonton.
Steven Williams said his front yard has become part of the virtual scavenger hunt, which means unwanted garbage and unwelcome visitors.
“Respect the area,” he asked players. “Enjoy the community. If we can’t relocate these Pokeman, at least pick up after yourself, don’t go yelling at three in the morning, waking people up, and be respectful, that’s all.”
He’s concerned that Patricia Park – where there are memorials to the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry – has become a hot spot for Pokemon hunting in Edmonton.
“It’s a beautiful area,” Williams said. “By all means, come here, walk around, check it out, but at the same time, simply respect people’s private property and the memorials that are around here for fallen soldiers.
“I’m not even in the PPCLI – I’m a serving member in the military. I’m in the Signal Corps – but I just find this very disrespectful.”
“I play myself, but this is a little bit ridiculous – taking residential parking so you are able to play your game,” said a local player as he recorded video of streets crowded with vehicles around 9:30 p.m.
“It’s disrespectful to the neighbourhood that you guys are playing in. So the most respectful things to do, at this point, here in this area, is possibly walk, take the bus, even bike ride out here kind of like how Pokemon Go wants you to actually go out and exercise.”
However, some residents praise the interactive nature of the game, which saw dozens of people gather at Patricia Park.
“It’s the best spot because people put down lures,” 11-year-old Aiden Buffitt explained. “Lures attract Pokemon to come to that spot and there’s three Pokestops that you can get resources from.”
Buffitt agrees the company should be careful about where they put Pokemon, but thinks the venue of Patricia Park could be educational.
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“The Pokestops are actual little signs, plaques of soldiers, so you can go there and get stuff and you might even learning something about them from reading on it.”
“It’s a lot of fun and it gets you outdoors a lot,” 12-year-old Ryan March said. “It’s a great way to interact with other people,” added his friend, 11-year-old Ciaran Cray. “It gets you out and connecting.”
“This is what Pokemon Go is doing … people are outside talking to each other and engaging face to face,” Mike Scott posted on Facebook.
Scott said he likes how the game requires players to travel a certain distance before they can unlock extra content.
The app has prompted some angry responses, including in Vancouver, where a man posted a sign which begins with “GET A LIFE AND STAY OUT OF MY YARD.”
“This whole Pokemon hunt is by far the stupidest thing I have ever seen,” says the note, which was first tweeted by local radio station 102.7 The PEAK, and has since gone viral.
The man then lists other things he has lived through, including Hammer Pants, Crystal Pepsi, “people taking Jean Chrétien seriously,” and the entire 10-season duration of CSI: Miami.
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Police forces across Canada have also issued warnings of the risks involved in playing the game, such as stepping into traffic without looking up from the screen, or even trying to play while driving.
“Please do not look for #Pokemon while driving. If you’ve gotta catch ’em all, do so safely. #DontCatchAndDrive,” tweeted Edmonton police.
With files from The Canadian Press and Justin McElroy, Global News