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PARIS – Walk into a minefield, enter a military base, or simply cross the road without looking: Fans of Pokemon Go are prepared to do whatever it takes to capture the likes of Pikachu and its friends.
A virtual hunt that has taken players worldwide by storm, the game has had real-world consequences in the Tokyo stock exchange and beyond.
The “augmented reality” smartphone app challenges users to roam the real world in search of virtual cartoon monsters to capture and train for battles, incorporating characters from the hit Nintendo game of the 1990s.
“By appealing to several generations, from those who have memories of the original Pokemon in 1996 to the very youngest gamers, this app has the potential to reach vast numbers of players and become the reference point for virtual reality,” says Laurent Michaud, head of digital entertainment at the Idate ideas laboratory.
The phenomenon has grown so rapidly that authorities in a number of countries have issued warnings about the dangers of the game, while police forces have taken to social media to remind users how to behave safely in public spaces.
And not without cause – the hunt for Pokemon (or “pocket monsters”) has resulted in some unexpected situations.
In Indonesia, a French player was stopped by police and questioned for several hours after the app led him into a military base. He was later released.
Players in Bosnia, meanwhile, have been warned to avoid minefields, which remain a hangover from wars that wracked the country between 1992 and 1995. (AFP)