Pokemon Go prompts Vancouver Police warning

Virtual reality game poses hazards for distracted players

Virtual reality game Pokemon Go is an international gaming sensation.

Virtual reality game Pokemon Go is an international gaming sensation.

Players of the new virtual reality game Pokemon Go are being warned by Vancouver Police about some real-world hazards.

The smartphone-based game, where users hunt for cartoonish creatures in everday places in their neighbourhoods using their phone’s camera and GPS system, was released last week in the U.S. It’s at the top of the Apple Store charts as the top grossing app, and tops in the free download category.

After receiving reports of large groups of people gathering in parks and city streets at all hours of the day and night, Vancouver Police issued a press release Wednesday morning that included some safety-related advice.

“The groups appear to be searching for something, many holding cell phones in the air, while others appear to be in a zombie-like state, eyes glued to their phones as they walk down the street, or ride their bikes and skateboards,” police said.

Parents are urged to remind their kids about some basic safety tips:

• look up and be aware of one’s surroundings, to avoid stepping into traffic or crashing into someone or something

• search in groups, as strangers may know your gathering spots, and young children should advise parents or another adult of planned destinations

• avoid distracted game play that involves riding a bike, skateboard, scooter or driving a car

• stick to public space and avoid private property

The Vancouver Police’s last bit of advice: “Stay safe and have fun catching Pokemon.”