Dead bodies, armed robbery, extreme homophobia, and militarized police forces weren't commonplace in the cheery world of Pokémon, but when Nintendo and mixed reality game developers Niantic launched Pokémon Go, they inadvertently invited in the real world's Rated-M problems.
The game's interface is like a stylized Google Maps, with roving Pokémon, waypoints for collecting items, and gyms where you can battle other trainers layed over shops, murals, and other landmarks in your area. Players have to walk around in order to begin catching 'em all, which means that Nintendo and Niantic have forced an otherwise environment-averse population out into a wild world. In this new environment, they've found new friends, love, and in some cases, trouble much worse than Team Rocket.
Here are some of the most unfortunate instances of the internet's new favorite video game mixing with cold, harsh reality.
A teenager found a dead body.
— Loren Brite (@PhilcamLoren) July 8, 2016
Shaylan Wiggins, a 19-year-old from rural Riverton, WY, stumbled upon an unknown male body under a bridge when she was scouring the local Big Wind River for water Pokémon. The Fremont County Police are investigating the cause of death, but right now they think it was an accidental drowning. Wiggins spoke to Kotaku, who reported that she did not catch the Pokémon she was after because she stopped playing to call 911.
Muggers figured out how to use Pokémon Go for armed robbery.
There's a function in Pokémon Go that allows users to send a beacon to nearby players to encourage them to meet, talk, and eventually trade with each other. In a scheme that would make Team Rocket's Jesse and James' shiver, a group of teens used the function to draw victims to isolated areas and rob them at gunpoint, according to the O'Fallon, Missouri Police Department.
A Clefairy trolled The Westboro Baptist Church, and they're trolling back with Jigglypuff and Pidgeotto.
Many players have noticed the popularity of churches as Pokéstops and Gyms, which they need to visit to stock up on items and train their Pokémon. One of those churches just so happens to be the Westboro Baptist Church, known for hate speech-filled protests of everything from LGBTQ communities to military funerals. It wasn't long before a Pokémon Go player took over the gym, cleverly stationing a Clefairy named LoveIsLove as the gym's defender. In response, the WBC posted a bizzare Vine featuring a Jigglypuff singing, "Repent or Perish," and a screencapture of a Pidgeotto named Godhatesfags that they're presumably using to recapture their church in the game.
The Pokémon games have dealt with religious zealots before, such as the apocalypse-causing Team Aqua and Team Magma in Pokémon Sapphire, Ruby, and Emerald version, but there's no way Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri ever imagined the WBC's intentionally frustrating, bigoted language entering his child-friendly universe.
The Westboro Baptist Church Gym is currently controlled by a Clefairy named LOVEISLOVE . ICONIC. I LOVE IT. pic.twitter.com/y4RRv5nXxT
— // Venny // (@DarthVenn) July 10, 2016
— Westboro Baptist (@WBCSaysRepent) July 12, 2016
Someone followed a Pidgey into the middle of a drug deal.
Pokémon Go is addictive, but its got plenty of competition when it comes to habit-forming activities: Reddit user Jacktionman reportedly found out walking the streets of central London late at night. Following a beacon, he came across two other night owls with their phones out and assumed they were doing the same thing he was: searching for Pokémon. "Sweet guys, I thought. Can't wait to start discussing the game," he writes in a Reddit post. He was wrong. "As I leaned in to see their phones, I realized they weren't playing Pokémon Go at all. They were lining up cocaine on one of their devices," he says.
Jacktionman reports refusing the coke, leaving the dealer confused about why he wasn't trying to score. "Went to score a Pidgey at a lured pokestop [sic], turns out someone was using the lure to find people trying to score drugs," he says.
One couple's private home became a gym.
Boon Sheridan and his wife were startled by groups of mysterious teens hanging around their house and cars stopping near their driveway, hanging out for a few minutes, and then leaving. It's enough to make anyone paranoid, but the Sheridans have been very gracious in not calling the cops on their new loiterers. The phenomenon seems to be caused by a data error—Sheridan's house used to be a church, which became a gym along with the previously-mentioned category of Pokéstops.
Sheridan has found no way to get his house's gym status revoked, but is satisfied that players have instead started to access his gym/home from a nearby bench.
Woohoo! I met the owner of my gym. Nice guy. pic.twitter.com/uujdC3JYbA
— Boon Sheridan (@boonerang) July 10, 2016
Another Gym popped up in Korea's demilitarized zone.
Another Redditor callled GhostXavier posted an in-game picture of the DMZ between North and South Korea. There's a lone Pokéstop and an unclaimed gym off in the distance. Not even Mewtwo is worth exploring a minefield like that.
A bug Pokémon inadvertently called out a brutal police maneuver.
— teagan (@twidx) July 8, 2016
A wild Pokémon called Pinsir appeared as militarized police closed in on an Oakland protest, unintentionally naming the often brutal "pincer" tactic of dispersing a crowd.
A US war veteran paused fighting ISIS to catch Squirtle.
— The Big Pharaoh (@TheBigPharaoh) July 10, 2016
A 26-year-old volunteer fighting against alongside ISIS alongside the Peshmerga in Iraq challenged Daesh to a Pokémon battle on Friday, writing on Facebook, "mortars are for pussies." Thankfully, ISIS doesn't exist in any other Pokémon game.
People are using Pokémon Go to send nudes.
There's an entire subreddit for Pokémon Go nudes, including a meme that's just dudes' laps with a Diglett in their groins. NSFW, obviously.
Oh, and the whole game is apparently a government psy-op conspiracy.
Pokémon Go can allegedly track your location and read your emails, but the spider's web of connections between Niantic and surveillance culture are compelling to the conspiracy theory corner of the internet.
With a massive base of daily users approaching Twitter in magnitude, only time will tell if the game is just a fad or a new model for social gaming. Either way, there are plenty more messed up occurences in reality that may collide with the fictional universe as time goes on.
Learn more about Pokémon Go on the official website.