Pokemon Go is the game of the summer: the first really successful alternate reality game that mashes up crowdsourced maps, in-phone cameras, seriously addictive game mechanics, and (of course) a free-to-play/cash-to-accelerate slot machine mechanic that children wouldn't be allowed to stand near if it were in a casino -- in less than a week, it's lifted Nintendo's stock price by 10% and been implicated in any number of bizarre news stories:
* One player stumbled on a dead body while looking for a Pokestop (a refuelling station) in Wyoming (this is in addition to the plague of anecdotes about fist-fights, fender-benders, and slip-and-falls from distracted and/or obnoxious players).
* A group of armed robbers used the crowdsourcing tool for pointing players to Pokestops to drop pins in secluded corners of Missouri shopping center parking-lots, where they stuck up their Poke-playing victims.
* Boon Sheridan lives in a former church that is mistakenly flagged as a public place in geographic databases and has thus been populated by virtual Pokemons for players to catch; his quiet road is now beset by Pokemon players who linger, block traffic, and freak out his neighbors.
* Teagan snapped this photo of a Pokemon player catching their prey amidst a tense Oakland Police Department riot-squad at a demonstration.
Hoo-boy, it's getting a bit Bellwethery in here all of a sudden.
But can we harness all this Pokemon-mania for good? Comics writer Jim Zub thinks we can: "US Government should team up with Nintendo of America to make polling stations special Election Day PokeStops for a record voter turnout."
I'm headed back to San Diego for Comic-Con today for a signing and giveaway for Radicalized, Tor Booth, #2701. I hope to see you there!
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