People are hurting themselves hunting for Pokémon
The craze for Pokémon Go continues unabated, sending Nintendo's stock soaring — but some monster hunters chasing virtual beasts around the globe are facing unexpected hazards, like holes in the ground.
- •Since downloading the mobile videogame “Pokémon Go” last week, Dakota Schwartz has caught nearly 150 creatures in his San Francisco neighborhood. He also sprained his ankle at a park trying to capture a Cubone —a brown dinosaur-like Pokémon wearing a skull for a helmet.“I knew there was a Cubone over by the tennis courts,” said the 27-year-old tech-support specialist, who is now using a cane to get around. “I looked down at my phone at the wrong time.”
- •Staring can be dangerous. Stephanie Frosch walked into a fire hydrant and a street sign trying to catch Pokémon on a Los Angeles sidewalk. She has a large bruise on her left leg.“I call it a battle mission,” said the 23-year-old YouTube entertainer, who also tripped over a stranger’s dog. “They actually asked if I was playing.”
- •Hannah Sugarman found a Pokémon hovering above the edge of a subway platform in New York. She decided against trying to nab the creature. Besides, it was an average Zubat, not a rare Pokémon. “It’s not one worth risking your life over,” the 22-year-old graduate student said.
- •Beware hunting while riding a bike. Parker James chased a Pokémon on a nature trail near his home in Austin when he hit a bump, sending his iPhone flying. The screen was destroyed.“I was pretty wrapped up in the moment,” the 23-year-old barber said. Pokémon “was a big thing for me as a kid, and it was an opportunity to relive some of those childhood memories.”
- •A police department in northern Australia had strong words on its Facebook page aimed at players thinking of trolling its headquarters: “For those budding Pokémon Trainers out there ... whilst the Darwin Police Station may feature as a Pokéstop, please be advised that you don’t actually have to step inside in order to gain the pokéball."
- •Some public institutions welcome the explorers. A librarian at the Mooresville Public Library in Mooresville, Indiana, used social media to let people know its aisles are full of Pokémon.“I was thinking it might be a great way to draw some new patrons in,” said Jess Frederick, who works in the children’s section, where she’s spotted about a dozen Pokémon and several patrons trying to capture them. “I’ve seen some new faces for sure that I haven’t seen before.”
- •Virtual adventures sometimes even end in romance. John Seo of Closter, N.J., was exploring Brooklyn with friends Friday night when he saw a young woman capture a Pokémon. The two quickly struck up a conversation.“I just asked her out toward the end,” the 25-year-old said. “I’ve never met a stranger and felt so connected. It’s like you shared the same childhood.”
- •Explorers’ bumps and bruises haven’t halted the game’s surprising success, which has added $9 billion to Nintendo’s market value in recent days. Shares of the company surged 25% in Tokyo on Monday, a welcome development for the videogame company.
- •In the U.S., the game has racked up about two million downloads on iOS devices and is generating roughly $1.6 million in revenue daily from in-app purchases, market-research firm Sensor Tower Inc. estimated. It also is available on Android devices.
- •The companies behind “Pokémon Go”— Nintendo Co., Pokémon Co. and the Alphabet Inc. spinout Niantic Inc.—are aware of the potential for accidents. Players starting the game are met with a warning depicting a player, head down, walking toward the gaping maw of Gyarados, a Pokémon that looks like a sea dragon.