Players taking part in the latest craze to hit Britain are “dicing with death” as they venture into risky areas, such as landfill sites, in their pursuit of Pokemon, according to a waste management firm.
Days after the game Pokemon Go was officially released in the UK, BusinessWaste.co.uk says it has already spotted “hapless Pokemon trainers” wandering into dangerous territory, unaware of the potentially deadly (and real world) risks they are facing.
The Yorkshire-based company says they’ve already been forced to warn players – both adult and children – away from recycling centres and landfill sites, where they have been completely oblivious to their own safety.
“Pokemon Go is a huge step in mobile gaming which combines an imaginary world with the real one,” says BusinessWaste.co.uk spokesperson, Mark Hall. “But players seem to think they are immortal in both, and that’s where the trouble starts.”
“In many respects, the game is extraordinary and appeals to both adults and kids, with whole families getting outdoors to hunt for their imaginary quarry, and that’s a very good thing. But it is not without its risks”
Pokemon Go is a free-to-play, location-based augmented reality game developed and published by Niantic for iOS and Android devices. In the game, players use a mobile device’s GPS capability to locate, capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on the screen as if they were in the same real-world location as the player.
“In many respects, the game is extraordinary and appeals to both adults and kids, with whole families getting outdoors to hunt for their imaginary quarry, and that’s a very good thing. But it is not without its risks,” Hall continues.
The firm says that the problem is that the game is an imaginary world overlaid on the real one [augmented reality], with little regard as to what are appropriate and inappropriate locations.
According to staff working for BusinessWaste.co.uk, the incidents are already stacking up.
- An adult was asked to leave a waste and recycling site after being seen playing the game oblivious to the plant machinery around him.
- A family group seen hunting Pokemon at an active landfill site. They were given appropriate advice and escorted to safety.
- A teenager climbing on industrial bins containing metallic waste behind a factory because (and we quote) “There’s a Jigglypuff here, give me two minutes”.
- Two youths who stepped out in front of a bin lorry on their way to a nearby Pokestop at a local war memorial, who were within inches of being road traffic accident victims.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” says Business Waste. “Our clients all over the country are reporting similar problems.”
BusinessWaste.co.uk says its clients are noting numerous acts of trespass on their property. While some are merely people sneaking round the car park or grounds, other cases are more serious.
“We’ve been told of trespassers in production areas, but what concerns us most is reports of people round bins which contain hazardous waste,” says Hall.
BusinessWaste.co.uk employs specialist handlers for risky industrial waste. It says to see people playing games in supposedly restricted and secure areas is “shocking indeed”. It says that’s where players of this otherwise harmless game need to be warned.
According to BusinessWaste.co.uk’s Mark Hall, people loitering at refuse and recycling sites – always the perennial problem for waste operators concerned out the health and safety of staff and visitors – have been on the increase as the game rapidly achieves cult status.
“We’ve nothing against Pokemon Go, and we know that players are warned to be aware of their surroundings in a message on the home screen, but it’s a warning that’s being ignored,” says Hall.
“Real life isn’t like a game, you don’t get to go back to the beginning if you’re killed,” says Hall. “Steer clear of rubbish tips and recycling plants, it’s not worth it.”