A new augmented reality game has captured the attention of people worldwide and less than a month after its release, public officials are still working to educate gamers in keeping safety first.
Pokémon Go, a free game released July 9 by Niantic in partnership with Nintendo, has resulted in millions of players using their smart phone cameras to roam around public spaces searching for Pokémon, or pocket monsters, to collect and fight. Fort Leonard Wood has experienced community members searching for these prizes as the installation is home to multiple Poké Stops and Poké Gyms , including the engineer statue in the Lincoln Hall atrium, the Bruce C. Clarke Library and Joint Services Park.
John Cobleigh, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood safety manager, said using a smart phone to search for Pokémons while walking could be dangerous.
"Always be aware of your surroundings," Cobleigh said. ""Look up, not down when around curbs, stairs, elevators or any elevated surface."
Not only is it dangerous to walk around staring at your phone, officials are also concerned about players driving around while using their smart phone's GPS services to find Poké Stops. It is against Fort Leonard Wood policy to use a cellphone while driving on the installation without a hands-free device and can result in a fine.
Creators of the game designed it to help promote physical activity among its players. Using the device's GPS settings, a player's walking distance is recorded and physical activity results in an increased score and capabilities within the game.
There have been reports of players being injured and even killed by neglecting to pay attention to their environment. Also, there are reports of people using Poké Stops and in-game features to lure innocent participants into places where they could be robbed or victimized.
While that hasn't been the case locally, Cobleigh said it is still wise for players to be aware of their surroundings and follow safety practices while playing the game.
The safety office has provided the following tips to play the game safely:
-- Do not blindly follow the app
-- Do not go anywhere you do not feel safe
-- Avoid alley ways or hidden areas
-- Maintain awareness of surroundings
-- Look both ways when crossing a street
-- Be aware of others seemingly interested in your activities or following you
-- Conduct a risk assessment when entering areas you are unfamiliar with
-- Report any suspicious activity noticed while playing
--Beware of trespassing
-- Avoid training areas
For more information, contact the Safety Office at 573.596.0131, ext. 60116.
There is also a Facebook group for local players to gather and compare information. The group can be found at www.facebook.com/groups/1029347003827664.