Chi­nese army bans Poke­mon play­ers from HK bar­racks

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

THE Chi­nese army gar­risoned in Hong Kong has warned peo­ple search­ing for Pikachu and other vir­tual mon­sters to stay off their premises, as Poke­mon Go mania sweeps the smart­phone-ob­sessed city.

The gam­ing app landed on July 25 in Hong Kong and saw res­i­dents more glued to their phones than ever, search­ing for the cy­ber crea­tures in lo­ca­tions rang­ing from shop­ping malls to the govern­ment head­quar­ters.

The app uses satel­lite lo­ca­tions, graph­ics and cam­era ca­pa­bil­i­ties to over­lay car­toon mon­sters on real-world set­tings, chal­leng­ing play­ers to cap­ture and train them for bat­tles.

But the city’s en­thu­si­asm to “catch ’em all” has prompted warn­ings from govern­ment de­part­ments and even the Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (PLA) to stay off their prop­erty.

The game has prompted in­creas­ing con­cern world­wide over safety, with re­ports of play­ers straying into re­stricted ar­eas, be­ing in­jured or be­com­ing crime vic­tims.

A PLA spokesper­son said the city’s bar­racks were closed zones.

“Mil­i­tary bar­racks are re­stricted ar­eas un­der Hong Kong law. With­out the autho­ri­sa­tion of the com­mand­ing of­fi­cer, no one is al­lowed to en­ter the re­stricted ar­eas,” he said.

Po­lice also warned res­i­dents to be care­ful when play­ing the game.

“When you are cap­tur­ing mon­sters, stay alert to your sur­round­ings,” said a po­lice video posted on Face­book.

“Po­lice re­port rooms are for peo­ple in need of po­lice ser­vices. Play­ers are not al­lowed to play the game there. Be a smart player!”

A sign at a con­struc­tion site also for­bade play­ers to en­ter the area to catch Poke­mon.

In In­done­sia a French player was stopped and ques­tioned for sev­eral hours af­ter the app led him into a mil­i­tary base. On the other side of the world, two young­sters were so pre­oc­cu­pied with catch­ing the car­toon mon­sters that they wan­dered across the US-Canada border.

Some Poke­mon Go play­ers were even robbed af­ter be­ing lured to iso­lated lo­ca­tions in hopes of catch­ing the vir­tual crea­tures, ac­cord­ing to US re­ports. Other dis­tracted play­ers have been blamed for caus­ing traf­fic ac­ci­dents.

But the tales of woe and stern warn­ings have not stopped Hong Kongers be­com­ing hooked on the game af­ter ea­gerly await­ing its re­lease for weeks, fol­low­ing its launch in Aus­tralia on July 6.

Dozens clus­tered in the city’s parks and of­fice build­ings yes­ter­day, all try­ing to catch the vir­tual mon­sters.The app has now been launched in more than 40 coun­tries in­clud­ing the US, Ja­pan and much of Europe. Ja­panese video game com­pany Nin­tendo started the myth­i­cal crea­ture fran­chise 20 years ago.

Photo: AFP

A man uses his phone to play Poke­mon Go in the Cen­tral district of Hong Kong on July 26.

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