Pokemon

It’s led to warnings from Bosnian authorities not to walk into minefields, car crashes in the US, and demands for players to stay away from culturally sensitive locations like cemeteries.

Pokémon Go, in case you haven’t noticed, is the latest mobile gaming craze to sweep the world but it’s the fact the game is played in our geographical space that is giving authorities all over the world headaches.

Gaming developer Niantic has released the game in an ever-expanding range of countries - among the first were Australia, the US and the UK - to mark the 20th anniversary of the classic game, which first hit our screens back in 1996 (interestingly, Pokémon Go's release in Japan, the birthplace of the whole Pokémon phenomenon, is still pending - or was at the time of writing; the game has since been released there). 

The latest Pokémon incarnation, Pokémon Go, uses smart phone camera and GPS technologies to locate Pokémon characters in the physical world so you, as a player, can catch them in what is a real life hunt for virtual treasure.

It’s the real world aspect which is leading to problems as players fail to pay enough attention to their surroundings in their single-minded search for more and more Pokémon, whether that means accidentally walking off a cliff, getting stuck in a cave more than 30 metres underground or venturing into places like the former Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz where they’re less than welcome (all of which has reportedly actually happened).

Sure, there have been what are called 'augmented reality' games on mobile phones, before but nothing that has captured the public imagination like this, and already there’s been much talk already of how businesses and other organisations – even churches – can capitalise on the trend (including people offering to train you how to catch Pokémon characters - for an hourly fee, of course!). If history is any guide, however, they’d best be quick – gaming fads like this don’t tend to last too long!