​Giddy Canadians finally get their Go, but the police aren't so crazy about the Pokémon phenomenon

Left out of the initial launch, the country's gamers crashed the servers within an hour of getting Go.
Written by Rajiv Rao, Contributing Writer on

Before this afternoon, Canadians were feeling distinctly left out of a global phenomenon -- called Pokémon Go -- where people of all ages and persuasions huddled furtively in little groups over their smartphones on streets, in alleyways, and in front of buildings, yammering away excitedly and punching buttons on their phones.

If you haven't heard about Go, you've probably been on another planet or in a deep coma and have just woken up. Go, which has boosted purveyor Nintendo's market cap by a cool $7.5 billion in a just a few days, is an augmented reality game that leverages your GPS data into a game world, transforming locations in and around your neighbourhood into places that house these strange digital monsters that you need to capture while doing battle with others in designated "gyms".

Before the roll out to Canada on Sunday, the game had been launched in a hefty list of countries, leaving Canadians with yet another reason to chafe at being considered an afterthought, especially by their southern neighbour.

The slight didn't seem to deter gamers though. At least 6 percent of all Android phones in Canada had downloaded Go prior to the official rollout, as desperate players in the land of the Maple Leaf figured out how to location spoof their way into workarounds so that they could get onto Go, despite warnings about attracting malware.

However, when the game was officially launched on Sunday afternoon, it promptly crashed the servers within the hour. That hasn't stopped the craze from building, though, as throngs of young adults roaming the streets like zombies, heads bent over their phones, continue to grow.

While Go has delighted gamers in Canada, police forces across the country seem less than delighted. Police officers parked in a cruiser in Quebec City experienced a car reversing straight into them. It wasn't apparently driven by a poltergeist of any kind or an intoxicated person but a Go gamer who promptly confessed that she was completely consumed by the spirit of Go.

Police in Ontario are so concerned about fatal mishaps thanks to the game that they've even posted a short video on Twitter that talks about the harm that they've seen thanks to Go. Ontario's Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca went so far as to tweet a photo of a Go player with the following warning: "Don't be a pidgeot. Look where you're walking and keep your head up when crossing the street.''

From Vancouver to Edmonton, Winnipeg to Montreal, Canadian police have issued advisories warning people not to play and drive and to be careful where they walk, especially if they happen to be near automobile traffic.

So far, there haven't been any fatalities reported across any of the countries that have been invaded by the Go phenomenon, but two Go-addled men apparently did fall off a cliff while playing the game and were lucky to suffer only moderate injuries; two others were shot at in Florida; another stumbled over a dead body by a river while playing the game; and several were relieved of their phones when they got to a designated location by some resourceful thieves.

If the game crosses this threshold into the realm of more serious or life-threatening incidents or injuries, this elixir for Nintendo may turn into a nightmare of Freddy Kreuger proportions, but till then it is gauranteed to to rake in box office gold.

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