Pokemon Go players have moved to condemn the alleged actions of their fellow trainers, after stories of “harassment” surfaced about local Gyms.
Niantic’s popular mobile game, available on iOS and Android, revolutionized the genre with its integration of augmented reality technology in 2016.
It encouraged people to get outside, be rewarded for walking distances, and encourage them to socialize with other people passionate about the world of Pokemon.
However, there have been some worrying developments in the community that could fuel a challenge to the developers phasing out Remote Raid Passes – which allowed trainers to play the game remotely without travel.
Pokemon Go developers urged to bring back Remote Raid Passes
Between October 16-17, two posts on the Pokemon Go subreddit racked up thousands of upvotes, questioning the safety of the game and its nature of encouraging strangers to meet at certain checkpoints.
In Pokemon Go, the app signposts Gyms and PokeStops as popular destinations on the map where you can pick up rewards just for visiting or battling.
One post – which has received over 7,000 upvotes at the time of writing – is from a user who identifies as a young female. They said: “Niantic is consistently trying to force interaction with strangers to achieve its goals in Pokemon Go… I shouldn’t be forced to interact with strangers (who are usually older and male) either online or Discord to coordinate Raids or in-person raids or trading…
“I just want to feel safe playing a game I enjoy when going on walks,” they added. “I don’t want to talk to strangers, no matter their gender, especially in a large group. My frustration is in the fact there was a perfect solution to this in remote raids which Niantic is phasing out.”
A reply with over 2,000 votes says the way people interact with the game has changed significantly since launch.
They said: “In the height of its popularity it was awesome because I’d see people of all ages, sex and race all coming together. Not always side by side but you could tell which 15 people around you were playing. Now that it’s died down it can just be awkward.”
A second user posted: “I’m an older woman, and while most PG folks are okay, I certainly understand your concerns.” A third said: “As an old male, I don’t want to play by your side and by the side of anyone else.”
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Pokemon Go Gym harassment stories surface on Reddit
In a follow-up post, which has over 2,500 points on Reddit, somebody identifying as an adult male agreed with the sentiments.
They said: “As an adult male, I don’t want to be around other men either. I don’t blame people for not wanting to be around anyone.
“There’s one guy who lives near me who has essentially stalked me and knows where I live. He will come up if I’m at the Gym, curse me and tell me I am not welcome… He’ll follow me in his car and get angry at me. It’s honestly scary.”
The post states that the individual has been reported to local authorities over claims that he has a “fixation” on holding every gym in the area.
Other players continued the thread with their own experiences.
One member of the community from Vancouver, Canada, added: “One time, I was playing at night in my car, parallel parked and taking down a gym he happened to be in. He pulled his car right behind me and flashed his high beams at me as I was parked while raspberrying the gym repeatedly with his 10+ phones…
“He also tried to track down where we lived by following us in his car, including a few PoGo friends of mine. He was eventually reported to police and faced charges for harassment.”
Another said: “I had someone do the high beams to me at a gym at night. For a while from behind then he turned his car to face mine with high beams on. As a woman, playing by myself, I freaked out and left.”
Many Redditors who have shared similar stories have backed the campaign to see Remote Raid passes to return in Pokemon Go, though it appears – based on the launch of new Elite Raids battles this October – there is little in the way of appetite to see the feature restored any time soon.