Linda Poon is a staff writer at CityLab covering science and urban technology, including smart cities and climate change. She previously covered global health and development for NPR’s Goats and Soda blog.
Now that the game has finally launched in Pokemon’s birth country, the Japanese government is prepared for the worst.
Pokemon Go has swiftly taken over the U.S. and Europe, prompting tenacious trainers everywhere to wander into the farthest corners of their cities to (virtually) catch them all. Now, after weeks of anticipation, the mobile game has finally arrived in Japan—the very country that gave us these irresistibly kawaii monsters—and the Pokemon craze is expected to be even bigger.
By now, news of Pokemon Go players falling off cliffs, getting robbed, and crashing into police cars has reached the other side of the world, and Japan knows its own citizens are not immune to these kinds of mishaps. In fact, the BBC writes that just hours after the game launched, a student at Osaka's Kindai University reportedly fell down the stairs while playing and had to be taken to the hospital.
That’s why the country—maker of tourist etiquette manuals and life-saving driver decals—is prepared for the worst-case scenarios. The government-run National Center of Incident Readiness and Strategy for Cybersecurity issued on Friday a guide with nine safety tips, with warnings about everything from fake apps to heat strokes to gun-toting cowboys overseas.
The flyer is fairly text heavy, but cute characters guide potential users through some of the most important safety precautions. Some are common sense. Number 1, for example, advises users to protect personal information by using a nickname and hiding their immediate location. Numbers 7 and 8 warn users to be cautious of their surroundings—don’t enter dangerous areas, and don’t meet with suspicious strangers.
Others are reminders of things that the typical player might not think about. Download weather apps, Number 3 suggests. You know, in case you’re so absorbed in your quest that you fail to notice a tsunami coming your way, as depicted in the drawing of a person dragging a player from fierce waves. Number 5 warns players to bring extra batteries, as GPS will eat up the phone’s supply.
Perhaps the most obvious but too-often-ignored tip is Number 9: Do not use smartphones while walking. Frankly, (most of) these tips are good reminders for everyone.