Even though the ridiculously popular mobile game Pokémon Go is not ‘officially’ offered in Canada yet, many tech-savvy Canadians have managed to download the app.
And due to the nature of the augmented reality game, which has users leave their homes and use their phone cameras to view digital creatures in real space, Richmond RCMP are offering a few tips to enjoy the game and reduce risks to players.
READ MORE: Pokémon Go unofficially hits the streets of Vancouver
While there’s no word on when the app will be available in Canada, stories from around the world are popping up about weird or dangerous encounters while playing the game.
“We are most concerned with the safety of potential players. This type of gaming is novel and its early adoption is rather unprecedented. It can be very easy to get so caught up in something and ignore safety entirely,” RCMP Richmond Cpl Dennis Hwang said in a statement.
The sudden popularity of Pokémon GO has raised concerns about possible privacy breaches, potential injuries (caused by people looking at their smartphone screens and not where they’re walking) and even being lured into robberies, according to some reports.
READ MORE: Pokémon GO: What parents should know about playing safely
Some of the Mounties tips include being aware of your surroundings while playing the game; being respectful of the property of others and mindful of the volume of your group interactions (especially at night).
The Richmond RCMP also have concerns over the game when it comes to distracted driving or walking, damage to property; going out alone and searching for Pokémon, PokéStops or Pokémon Gyms and playing in areas at night with poor lighting.
In response to Pokemon Go’s popularity, Richmond RCMP sent this tweet out on July 12, 2016. Richmond RCMP
In response to Pokemon Go’s popularity, Richmond RCMP sent this tweet out on July 12, 2016.
In addition to player safety, Richmond RCMP are concerned about using police resources to investigate Pokémon gatherings or incidents.
“When we are dispatched to calls involving groups of individuals, officer safety is paramount. Typically we would deploy multiple officers to investigate,” Hwang said.
“We do not wish to be spoilsports, as many of our officers enjoy gaming too, but we want to make sure that our resources are not tied up investigating Pokémon players or gatherings, especially when our assistance can be wisely allocated elsewhere. Hopefully, our tips will help. Pika Pika!“
What is Pokémon Go?
Pokémon Go combines geocaching and virtual reality to allow users to hunt for Pokémon in real-life environments like your bedroom, or the park down the street.
First, users are instructed to head to local landmarks – known as “Pokestops” – where they collect “Pokeballs” that help capture the Pokémon creatures. After that, you follow your virtual map hunting for Pokémon. Once you find them, you throw Pokeballs at them to capture them.
WATCH: The Baltimore Police Department released video of a car crash that was the result of the driver being distracted while playing Pokemon Go.
Once users train their Pokémon, they head to locations known as “gyms” to pit them against each other.
Of course, none of this will make sense unless you are already familiar with Pokémon – a popular Japanese anime and videogame series where trainers capture “pocket creatures” known as Pokémon and train them to fight each other.
WATCH: Tuesday night at the University of Maryland, three armed robberies by a masked gunman were pulled off in quick succession. Four people were victimized and University Police on Wednesday said three of them were distracted at the time by Pokemon Go. Scott Broom reports.
~ with files from Nick Logan and Nicole Bogart