Over the weekend, the United States was hit with a Walking Dead–style epidemic: Pokémon Go. Did you see the roving bands of people, lumbering around parks and monuments, smartphones in hands, staring intently at their screens? Or maybe you were infected yourself, taken to muttering There’s a Squirtle over there under your breath, drawn toward odd city memorials? The Pokézombies have taken over the world. May God have mercy on us all.
Pokémon Go is, of course, the suddenly viral augmented-reality game that requires players to move around in the real world to catch Pokémon at IRL locations. (You can read our more in-depth explanation here.) Its wide appeal — ranging from kids who are into Pokémon now (and, of course, their parents) to 20-somethings who were into Pokémon 15 years ago — and its novel basis in real-life interaction turned it into a phenomenon. Friendships were made! Businesses were saved! And, uh, people were robbed!
In other words, people went bonkers for this game.
A casual meetup in Sydney, Australia, attracted more than 2,000 people.
The app has outpaced Tinder and Twitter on Android …
… and magically added $9 billion to Nintendo’s market cap, currently at $28 billion.
Louis Park, an American volunteer fighting ISIS in Syria, claimed to have caught a Squirtle on the front lines.
Others are taking advantage of Pokémon fever in more tangible ways. One gay club was using the app as incentive over the weekend.
Others were more … enterprising. According to police, thieves in the St. Louis area added a beacon to the game in order to lure players to a parking lot and then rob them.
If that’s not enough, players have also been warned not to play the game while driving. The Washington State Department of Transportation had to tell users, “No Pokémoning from behind the wheel.”
(Some reported Go-related car accidents were fake, however.)
Pokémon is destroying lives, you guys.
A New Zealand duo actually kayaked out to a fountain in order to claim territory.
Another claimed the homophobic Westboro Baptist Church for the yellow team using a Clefairy named Loveislove.
Some users discovered that the game’s location data can send you to sketchy places, like a famous Massachusetts murder house.
Many almost-certainly-fake stories like this, involving a shady Pokémon meetup between a white man and two black men, are floating around. A lot of people are passing one another on the street giving small glances and knowing looks. If someone is wandering aimlessly on their phone, the odds are pretty good that they’re playing Pokémon Go.