When I first heard about the guys who fell off a cliff while chasing after mythical creatures in Pokémon Go, I thought it must be a joke.
I’m truly astounded by the phenomenon that is Pokémon Go!
For a pair of men in California, it’s probably too much of a phenomenon. More on that in a moment.
For those who’ve heard the name but missed the details, Pokémon, which was a sensation I managed to completely (and happily) miss in the 1990s, has made a huge comeback with a game a surprising number of people are playing.
But this time, instead of being able to sit on your couch and play the video game on an actual video game console connected to your television set — the way home video games were meant to be played — the new version involves your mobile phone.
With mobile being the keyword.
As has been explained to me, because I have absolutely zero interest in trying it out myself, you play this game by going places in search of little characters that you “collect.”
Yes. The couch is out of the question.
You actually have to go outside. Walk around. Drive around. Explore where you are.
Give the developers one point for encouraging people to get up and move.
The game utilizes the technological wonder known as “augmented reality.” Basically, it takes real places — whatever city or town you’re in — and adds these little characters to those places. With your phone’s GPS, the game can tell where you are, and as I understand it, it places the little characters at notable spots.
I’m told by a co-worker that in the Charleston area where I am, there are about 100 such spots where you’re expected to find one of the little creatures.
I’m also told that the developers of the game invited people to submit ideas for ideal locations, but that these submissions were two years old by the time they were placed into the game, meaning that in some cases, different things (including people’s homes) might be where something else was to begin with.
That’s caused frustration for homeowners who are suddenly finding people wandering around in their yard or knocking on their door asking to come inside to find a creature.
Seriously, people, who would walk up to a complete stranger’s door and ask to walk into their house to look for a video game character?!?
You do see how ridiculous that sounds, don’t you?
There have even been reports of Pokémon Go players being targeted by robbers who also have the game and know where those little creatures are supposedly waiting. The crooks are waiting there, too, ready to pounce on unsuspecting players.
But then late this week, we learned about the ultimate head-scratcher of a Pokémon Go story: Two men in their early 20s fell an estimated 50 to 90 feet down a cliff in Encinitas, California.
It’s hard for me to imagine how someone couldn’t see that they were about to walk off a cliff even if they were holding their phone in front of them as they were walking. I mean, I would have thought their peripheral vision would have kicked in enough to warn them, “You’re almost out of ground.”
Of course, I have a fear of heights, so I think I would have been particularly aware that I was even near a cliff long before I allowed myself to become so engrossed in a video game that I could take one step too many.
Lest anyone think the cliff should have been fenced off or that the game should have warned them, consider this line:
Apparently it wasn’t enough that the app warns users to stay aware of surroundings or that signs posted on a fence near the cliff said “No Trespassing” and “Do Not Cross.”
Here’s a little advice: whether you’re playing a video game or answering a text message: always be aware of your surroundings. Watch where you’re going. Stay alert to people in your immediate area.
Sometimes you are your own best defense against injury or worse.
Don’t let yourself drop that defense down.