Pokémon Go is particularly dangerous in India

Being a Pokémon trainer is a hazardous occupation in India because of pathetic road conditions, a lack of civic sense, and drivers who ignore traffic rules.

Pokémon Go makes it clear right in the loading screen, that players need to be aware of their surroundings at all times. The game has already claimed its first life in Guatemala, it is unknown if this was because of self defence against a trespass or a murder. In the US, two teenagers were shot at while looking for Pokémon. Two men fell off a cliff in California, after ignoring warning signs. These are incidents that occurred under extraordinary conditions, but just opening up the game and playing regularly can be a hazard in India.

In the crowded, jam packed, and at times dinghy streets there is just too many things to dodge. Even while walking on a platform in Thane railway station, in a straight line, there are piles of human waste, overhanging cables that I almost ran into, cut off steel rods protruding from the tiles, broken tiles, dead rats, and slimy areas of mysterious origin to avoid. I just stopped looking at the screen so much. It is possible to capture Pokémon without stopping, but now I take the time to stop and capture them before carrying on. Once I figure out the destination, I just occasionally glance at the screen for appearing Pokémon. This is however not the problem of oblivious gamers looking into their screens and not aware of their surroundings.


Yes, in kindergarten kids were taught to look on both sides of the road before crossing, but here it can lead to a major problem even if you stop paying attention to the road for a few moments. It is not possible to walk in a straight line on footpaths. In the rainy season, they deteriorate. They are frequently interrupted by buildings, so it is just easier, but more dangerous to walk on the road. This becomes a problem when you are walking on the right side, but there are people coming from behind you, driving on the wrong side. The conditions of the roads are bad, and the monsoons and overloaded trucks create potholes, and these potholes are known to kill.


Traffic does not stop before the line, and a rickshaw driver nudging forward gave me a big bruise on my thigh. In a dimly lit and unfamiliar park, where there were drains on either side of the walkway, my leg just went straight in. Didn't get hurt, but my phone got a scratch. Navigating unfamiliar areas can be particularly tricky. Some gyms are located in the middle of roundabouts. These can get particularly dangerous if lure modules are deployed in them.


This Gym is in the middle of a busy intersection below a flyover, at Cadbury Junction in Thane

There is no immediate solution to this. The traffic and road conditions are just bad. The road transport minister has to urge people to just follow traffic rules. Pedestrians are anyway in the line of danger, Pokémon just increases the risk. It just means that Pokémon players have to take the effort to be extra careful. There is no need to go inside buildings to catch Pokémon, and Gyms can be attacked from a distance. A part of what makes this game so much fun is that it is a videogame that takes you out of the comfort of your home and makes you go to places you will never have otherwise gone to for any reason. That brings with it both benefits and risks, so enjoy the game but just take care and please don't get hurt.

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