By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
One of the many purposes of Pokémon Go is to get players out of the house, enjoy the weather and make new friends. The release of this game could not be any better. It arrived in the dog days of summer and for the most part, fans of this game have come out of their shelters to enjoy this product. One issue that bugs me are those who behave like Kakunas — they lock themselves in their vehicle and play the game there during the evening hours. I think there’s something wrong with those folks. Chances are hit and miss to chat with those walking around (I’ve seen some wearing headphones, indicating they want to tune out the real world), but for the most part, everyone has been friendly — even during Poké Gym battles.
In the past two weeks, I’ve literally knocked at the window of those players’ vehicles (thankfully they were parked safely on the side of the street) and said hi. A few are surprised by my move — especially when they are playing beside my home next to a park, where a Poké Gym is — and at other places, it’s all about fellow gamers chillin’ and having a good time. Up on Mt. Tolmie, we tried to figure out where that Charizard appeared for one player. Either he had an incense going or that was pure luck. That group also set up the lure there, so I went to do the friendly thing and thanked them.
I’m just a player who wants to socialize and not hide behind a screen. Some gamers do enough of that at home with certain video games, and this habit should not be repeated outdoors.
Sadly, there are apathetic types who would rather stay in the comfort of their vehicle, especially when it’s a cold night to get whatever Pokémon that appears in their sphere of influence. Sadly, at a popular hot spot, just where they park can become problematical. I am not saying where it is since it will only bring more people there. I have been to it four times now and I can only shake my head at how disrespectful those players are towards regular park users. Some players even think it’s okay to bottleneck the main thoroughfare. When everyone wants to leave, only one lane is available; the result is a traffic nightmare. Those individuals double-parking are not being considerate and I have read on the forums that it got bad one night. Vehicles were triple parked. The police were called in to disband the gathering.
In Ottawa, Ontario Pokéemon Go players were served fines amounting to a total of $12,000 in parking tickets. In York, a police chopper followed an erratic driver trying to catch ’em all from behind the wheel. This type of behaviour is unacceptable and I suspect this issue is only going to get worse as this game rolls out to more countries. Niantic Labs is doing what they can by putting a warning in their game to not drive while playing, but the game has no note to alert players (in cars) to respect vehicular traffic. This company has at least fixed the game to detect when the player is moving in a vehicle. A pop-up has to be responded to in order to continue playing.
However, these warnings are not being heeded.
While I’m trying to take witnessing these Mankeys crazily park their vehicles in stride, a part of me wants to be Batman to enforce what’s right. I want to bring a video camera to record the actions of these drivers and get their license plates to turn in for Victoria Police to handle. This action will not make me popular but what else can I do? I could put up a huge sign saying don’t be a jerk by double-parking and drive your car down the hill, where there’s plenty of stalls. But how many people are going to consider it? While I walk around in the breeze at night (this area is facing the ocean so it’s naturally chilly) in my shorts and t-shirt in my latest outing, there are still people who would rather play inside their car.
I know where the best spots are at this location and you can not put your car close enough to them to catch them there. I think there will be a point where what’s happening here will become just like the Ottawa situation. The news is more quick to report on what’s bad about this game. I do not think there’s anything positive that this game is promoting when there are players not being respectful to other folks using the venue for recreational purposes.
I’m surprised the police department does not send out a regular patrol car to this area to issue tickets. Victoria Police can make a lot of money by catching those bad drivers here at this seaside park. The same can be said for anywhere around the world where it is a hotbed of Pokémon activity. Sooner or later, Niantic will be getting requests to shut down spots because the groups maintaining the communities and/or parks are communicating with the police to gain official reports about how much “noisier” their block has become. Residents who do not like the idea of players congregating in front of their property (in vehicles or not) have already taken action by filing lawsuits. One such case that made the news is one from Alberta. Removal of the game’s “spawn spots” is one thing, but living next to a hotbed is another.
With that information, they can easily show how much of a hindrance this game has become to homeowner’s lives. They do not want it. Legal action has begun for some places and establishments not wanting their place featured as part of this game. While there is an online form they can fill to request removal, some people will not know this option exists and just how long it takes for the data to be changed is anybody’s guess. As more people spend time with Pokemon GO, I suspect this problem will only grow.