Since it’s explosive release back in 2016, the smartphone game Pokémon GO has managed to maintain a steady popularity for years. However, perhaps unexpectedly, a large majority of active players (known as “trainers” in the game) in Japan are men and women in between the ages of 35 and 60, many of whom enjoy the exercise and stress-reducing effects that walking around throwing balls at animals is said to create.
You might think that such an age group would be relatively responsible and respectful when playing public areas, but regardless of age all civility goes out the window when rare pocket monsters are at stake. For example in Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture, a 40-year-old trainer was arrested for striking a police officer whom he accused of interfering with his Pokémon hunting.
The incident occurred at approximately 3 p.m. on 23 February when the officer responded to reports of a large flock of roughly 50 Pokémon GO trainers congregating on a street near a hotel and blocking the sidewalk.
▼ Under the right conditions it’s not uncommon to see a horde of 50 to 100 trainers congregate in one place.
When the officer arrived, two trainers were still there. He asked one to leave and they complied. However, when confronted, the one remaining Pokémon trainer allegedly said, “Because of you, I couldn’t get it,” referring to some kind of cute imaginary creature, and then hit the policeman.
Details are sketchy at the moment, but it is believed that due to the large number of people in a single place it may have been a limited EX Raid Battle which offers a chance to catch a very rare Pokémon. The trainer is denying charges, saying, “I never raised my hand.”
Comments online showed little sympathy for the suspect.
“Decent trainers only have themselves to blame for not catching Pokémon.”
“Looks like a trainer got himself caught.”
“Sounds like a Pokémon battle broke out.”
“A wild officer of the law appeared!”
“It’s okay to enjoy a game but bothering other people is wrong. Especially a 40-year-old should be ashamed.”
“What an idiot.”
“He’s probably a SoftBank user, they were having a special event that day.”
As the last comment pointed out, the incident occurred on the Pokémon GO Special Weekend, a nationwide event where players can catch other rare Pokémon such as Unown and a higher rate of shiny versions. However, participation is limited to customers or invitees of major telecom company SoftBank. This significantly raises the stakes of game for a limited time and possibly pushed that one trainer over the edge.
It was an event that our own middle-aged born-again Pokémon GO fanatic P.K. Sanjun was very excited about. In fact, he said he was heading down to Ehime for it, and come to think of it, I haven’t seen or heard from him in a few days….
I, uh, think I should make a phone call.