Friday, July 15, 2016

Pokemon Go Meets Urban Reality

Pokemon Go get mugged
It's all so cute, the game that gets people out of the house and moving. We need incentive to exercise, because better health just isn't enough of a motivator to burn off some calories.

Pokemon Go has been all over the news lately. Wherever you turn, there's some reference to the phone-based game that has taken the techno-savvy world by storm. Everyone's playing it, doesn't it feel that way? You hear chatter constantly about Pokemon Go and catching one or another of the little digital creatures like it's a quest with world consequences.

Pokemon Go has run up against urban reality in Chicago. It isn't the harmless game as portrayed.

One of the problems cited with Pokemon Go is the distraction factor. Players are so totally focused on their cell phone screens in their effort to catch the critter that they are oblivious to their surroundings. You've probably heard stories of players walking into traffic or crashing into fellow pedestrians as they play the game and forget that they are not sitting on their couch.

For one Chicago player, the distraction proved quite painful.

An Edgewater resident went out for a late-night stroll near the lakefront to catch a few Pokemon. What better place than an open park, a wide bike path or a relatively quiet street to play without danger of colliding with fellow players chasing after the same quarry? His partner was previously occupied, and what's a man to do with time on his hands and no one to pass it with?

Off he went, to chase the elusive Pokemon hiding near Lake Michigan. Hot on the trail, he followed the path that Pokemon led him on, right into a pedestrian underpass.

At night.

In the dark.


So would anyone familiar with life in Chicago these days be surprised to learn that a gang of three teenagers jumped him?

Phone theft is such a common crime these days. Kids swipe the phone from the hands of a distracted owner and they're gone to the nearest shady phone dealer in their run-down neighborhood. Shady phone dealer wipes the phone before the victim has a chance to locate the iPhone, the kids get a few bucks, and the phone's owner gets to be another statistic.

The Pokemon Go player was engrossed in the game, and never noticed the vultures hovering. If he had been on his usual game, the urban walk with eyes in the back of the head wide open, he would not have made for an easy target.

The thugs used the classic distraction technique of fists to head and torso, took the phone, and would have taken the man's wallet once he was down if not for a few other pedestrians who noticed the commotion.

Instead of capturing Pokemon in the pedestrian tunnel, the player caught a little hell. He went to the hospital to have his injuries seen to, but the phone is gone and he's a bit wiser today.

Forget the tales of people walking off cliffs in a distracted daze. If you dare to play Pokemon Go in Chicago, bring a partner. Or an armed guard.

Why make it easier on the thieves who see Pokemon Go players as so many fools just asking to be robbed?

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