What are some of the latest risks of augmented reality games revealed by the activities of Pokémon Go players?
These recent Associated Press reports provide some idea:
Man surrenders for alleged attack on niece over ‘Pokémon Go’
July 26, 2016
CRANSTON, R.I. (AP)—A Rhode Island man who is accused of attacking his niece because he was upset over how she was playing the game Pokémon Go has surrendered to police.
Cranston police say Kalada Fubara turned himself in Tuesday. He’s expected to be arraigned on charges of felony domestic assault and disorderly conduct Tuesday afternoon. Fubara said he had no comment when reached by phone.
Police say the 44-year-old Fubara met his 22-year-old niece at a virtual room called a Pokémon gym and became upset when she entered the gym because he didn’t want her to.
Police say Fubara became infuriated when his niece told him it was just a game. They say he punched her, pulled her out of the car, pulled out her hair and kicked her in the ribs.
Man, 62, playing ‘Pokémon Go’ at night gets stuck in mud pit
July 26, 2016
COEYMANS, N.Y. (AP)—Authorities say a 62-year-old man playing “Pokémon Go” at night in the woods behind his New York home became stuck in waist-deep mud and had to be rescued.
Police say the man was playing the game on his cellphone at around 2 a.m. Sunday when he wandered into thick woods behind his home in Coeymans (KWEE’-mihnz), just south of Albany.
Officials say he became trapped in a mud pit up to his waist and couldn’t get out. He used his phone to call 911 emergency dispatchers, who guided an officer to his location by pinging the man’s phone and the officer’s.
Man faces conspiracy, assault charges in Pokémon Go shootout
July 26, 2016
LAS VEGAS (AP)—Police say an armed man accused of trying to rob Pokémon Go players in Las Vegas before a shootout left him and a player injured now faces charges of conspiracy, robbery, battery and assault with a deadly weapon.
Authorities said Tuesday that 18-year-old Elvis Campos was taken to jail after being treated at the hospital for a gunshot wound to the back.
Campos was shot early Monday as he was demanding the possessions of six people at a park east of downtown as they were playing the popular smartphone game, which sends players to physical locations to “catch” virtual Pokémon characters.
The two sides exchanged fire after a player who has a concealed weapons permit drew his own gun.
A juvenile with Campos at the time also faces charges.
Cologne cathedral hires lawyer to stop Pokémon hunters
July 26, 2016
BERLIN (AP)—The Catholic Church has hired a lawyer to tackle a plague of Pokémon Go players invading Cologne Cathedral.
Local daily Express reported Tuesday that the church decided to take legal action after the virtual reality game’s manufacturers didn’t react to requests to exclude the ancient building from Pokémon Go.
The newspaper quoted the dean, Robert Kleine, as saying that “the cathedral isn’t a playground.”
Canadian woman charged for shooting at Pokémon Go players
July 25, 2016
NEWMARKET, Ontario (AP)—Police have charged a Canadian woman they allege shot a pellet gun at a group of people playing Pokémon Go north of Toronto.
Police said Monday they received a call around 10:30 p.m. Saturday that someone was shooting at several people playing the popular smartphone game in Newmarket, Ontario.
The game sends players into the real world to search for Pokémon, which appear on screen when users hold up their devices in various locations.
Police say witnesses saw a woman shooting at the players from a nearby rooftop with a pellet gun that looked like a handgun.
No one was hurt. Police say at least four shots were fired.
Patricia Champagne, 29, is charged with assault with a weapon and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.
Too busy for Pokémon? These entrepreneurs will play for you
July 22, 2016
By Ezra Kaplan
NEW YORK (AP)—Too busy with your real life to play the hit augmented reality game Pokémon Go? For a price, some entrepreneurs will play the game for you.
New ads are popping up on Craigslist nearly every day from people who say they will log on to your Pokémon Go account and effectively run up your score while you are stuck at work or sitting in class.
On a recent July afternoon, two 24-year-old Pokémon “trainers,” Lewis Gutierrez and Jordan Clark, walked through Brooklyn’s Prospect Park with their eyes glued to their phones, tapping and swiping away to catch virtual Pokémon for clients paying about $20 per hour for the service.
Gutierrez, who described himself as a welder and writer, said he began by helping relatives with the game after it was released in the U.S. in early July. He then put a post on Craigslist advertising his services professionally.
He said he was immediately inundated with requests from potential customers and had to recruit Clark, a part-time wine purveyor, to help.
“I couldn’t even do it by myself,” Gutierrez said. “I had two phones. I was doing, like, 10-hour days, and I got my friend Jordan to come along with me. And now it looks like we are going to have to hire another person. So it’s just been booming.”
The two college friends liken the service to dog walking and call themselves Pokewalkers.
And they aren’t the only ones getting in the game. One trainer in London offers to boost your Pokémon account up to Level 20, which is very high, for a price of $185. Others offer Uber-like driving services with the promise of taking a player to some of the hottest Pokémon hunting grounds around the city.
Played on smartphones, Pokémon Go has been a phenomenon since its release. The game involves going to real-world locations to chase virtual characters from the classic Nintendo game.
Paying people to play a game for you might seem to defy common sense, but Gutierrez and Clark say clients come to them mainly for two reasons: They want to compete in the game at a high level but don’t have time to roam the city and play the game all day; or, they are getting ready for a “Pokedate.”
“It’s a good first date for Tinder,” said Clark, referring to the location-based dating app. “A lot of people are meeting up that way.” Some want to impress their potential partners by being in the game at a respectable level.
Leveling-up services aren’t unique to Pokémon Go.
The clandestine practice already occurs with online multiplayer role-playing games such as World of Warcraft and Destiny, where paid professionals help clients gain the necessary experience and resources in the game to compete at a high level when they are actually playing for themselves.
Publishers of such titles deem the act cheating and warn they’ll cancel accounts of users who enlist outside assistance to mine for virtual currency or level up their characters. The terms of service in Pokémon Go explicitly forbid the practice of transferring access to an account to a third party.
Gunman gets shot by Pokémon Go player he tried to rob
July 25, 2016
By Sally Ho
LAS VEGAS (AP)—A gunman and his underage driver tried to rob a group of people playing the popular Pokémon Go game, triggering a shootout after one of the players pulled out his own weapon at a Las Vegas park that has become a hot spot for virtual creature hunting.
The incident early Monday marked the latest illustration of unintended consequences in everyday life due to the booming popularity of the GPS-powered “augmented reality” game.
Las Vegas police spokeswoman Laura Meltzer said the shooting left a Pokémon player and the would-be armed robber hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries. Charges are expected against both that suspect and the juvenile who was driving the SUV.
Shortly after 4 a.m., a group of six people were at a public park east of downtown playing the popular smartphone game, which sends players to physical locations to “catch” virtual Pokémon characters.
Police said an armed man and the young driver drove up to the group in an SUV and demanded their possessions at gunpoint. One of the Pokémon players who has a concealed-weapons permit drew his own gun and the two sides exchanged fire.
One person in the Pokémon group was shot once in the stomach and taken to the hospital. Meltzer said it’s unclear if that person shot is also the player who had his own gun but that the group of local players knew each other.
The man believed to be the suspect also was treated at the hospital for a gunshot wound. How he got to the hospital is not clear, but a matching SUV was found there.
Facebook users in a few Pokémon Go groups have suggested the location of the shooting, Gary Reese Freedom Park, as a hotspot for a particular kind of pocket monster known as Magikarp. In postings about nearby parks that are good places to catch specific kinds of Pokémon, the park is noted as a good place to collect the fish-like creature.
Police haven’t cited a motive or said if the Pokémon players were targeted.
But this isn’t the first report of suspects trying to rob people engrossed in the hugely popular Pokémon Go game. Four teens in St. Louis robbed victims earlier this month after luring them to a specific location using Pokémon Go.
Associated Press writer Samantha Shotzbarger contributed from Phoenix.
Canadian teens detained for Pokémon Go border crossing
July 22, 2016
HELENA, Mont. (AP)—U.S. Border Patrol officials say two Canadian teenagers were briefly apprehended after they accidentally crossed the U.S. border into Montana while playing the game Pokémon Go.
Border Patrol Agent John South says the teens were engrossed and wandered into the United States.
South says agents detained them while contacting their mother, who was nearby on the Canadian side.
The agents then released the children to their mother.
South on Friday declined to release the teenagers’ names, ages or describe what sort of terrain they crossed.
He says they were detained Thursday near Sweet Grass, Mont., which borders the town of Coutts in Canada’s Alberta province.
Pokémon Go is a game in which players go to different locations to find virtual characters that appear on their cellphones.
Stun gun used on Pokémon Go player who resisted arrest
July 22, 2016
TAMPA, Fla. (AP)—Police in Florida used a stun gun on a Pokémon Go player who resisted arrest when officers chased about 150 people out of Tampa’s Ballast Point Park after closing time.
Lt. Ricardo Ubinas said in a news release that everyone except 20-year-old David T. Mastrototaro-Baermude complied with officers’ commands to leave the park around 10:30 p.m. Thursday.
Ubinas says when police attempted to arrest him, he grabbed an officer’s arm and pushed off. He continued resisting, almost pulling an officer to the ground. That’s when the stun gun was used.
The report says the man was then arrested without further incident. Records don’t list an attorney for him.
Police remind Pokémon Go players to be aware of their surroundings and not to go to city parks after closing time.
Police: Driver aiding wife with Pokémon Go hits patrol car
July 21, 2016
REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. (AP)—Police say a driver who crashed his vehicle into a police patrol car in the Delaware resort of Rehoboth Beach was trying to help his wife as she played the popular Pokémon Go game.
Rehoboth Beach police say in a Facebook post that 28-year-old Mark A. Oldenburg of Dover was cited for inattentive driving and an improper turn following the crash Wednesday. No one was hurt.
Police say Oldenburg’s wife had directed him to pull into a median parking spot in an attempt to locate a Pokémon gym. Authorities say Oldenburg failed to check his surroundings and crashed into the officer’s vehicle.
Pokémon gyms are sites of virtual game battles between players of the smartphone game.