Pokémon Go is making people take leave of their senses

Players are going into funeral homes and adult stores, and a safety group is warning them not to play while driving. Seriously.

Pokémon Go is leading players to some strange locations.
Credit: Eduardo Woo

Pokémon Go, the new augmented reality smartphone game, has players showing up in some strange places looking for virtual cartoon creatures.

Several players have shown up at a sex products store in the U.K., according to some news reports. In New Zealand, players have gone to the headquarters of the Hells Angels biker gang, reports the Guardian.

The game is aimed at players aged 10 and up, according to information on Pokémon Go's Google Play download page. 

Other search locations were poor choices for other reasons. The Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., has asked people take their smartphones elsewhere, with a spokesman saying that playing the game in the museum is "not appropriate," reported the Washington Post. Someone uploaded a screen shot of Pokémon Go being played in a funeral home.

As of Monday, an estimated 7.5 million U.S. players had downloaded the game, according to news reports. Pokémon Go was released in the U.S. last Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the National Safety Council issued a warning on Tuesday that you wouldn't think was needed.

The nonprofit urged pedestrians to exercise caution while playing Pokémon Go and implored drivers to refrain from playing the game behind the wheel.

"No race to capture a cartoon monster is worth a life," the NSC reminded.

Don't Pokémon and drive. Does that really need to be said?

Maybe. There are numerous reports of accidents and mishaps caused by people too engrossed in their smartphones to be paying attention to the world around them. Last year, 11,000 injuries were caused last year by the so-called distracted walking, and that was before Pokémon Go.

Distracted driving kills thousands each year, as drivers take their eyes off the road to check a text message or type out an email.

But so far, at least, the most widely cited report of a Pokémon Go-related traffic accident has turned out to be fake. Many news organizations fell for a satirical story published on fake news site Cartelpress that reported a major accident in Massachusetts in which a driver playing Pokémon Go stopped on a highway.

The NSC did concede it hasn't yet seen any credible reports of actual instances of Pokémon while driving.

But with millions playing the game, perhaps it's only a matter of time until something like that happens. The game is only available in the U.S. at present but is expected to be launched in other countries soon. So the likelihood of someone doing yet another incredibly stupid thing is increasing.

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