GamingJuly 11, 2016

Help! Pokémon invaded my house and now I’m under siege


Imagine strange cars and weird people hanging around your house. This is the shocking reality for some in this post-Pokémon world.  In part two of the Pokémon GO Orgy Week, Jess McAllen interviews a number of unassuming Americans who’ve had uninvited Pokémon hunters turning up on their doorstep.

Catch up on Pokémon GO Orgy Week by soaking up the rest of our coverage.

It’s the question of our time: how do you explain to a non-Pokemon Go gamer that their house is not a house, but a gym and that’s why people are flocking to their driveway?

Pokemon Go is a game that started as an April Fool’s joke. It was only launched last week, but has already resulted in a body being found, a public servant kayaking to claim a gym on Wellington’s waterfront, world peace in Hamilton and society generally walking around like the technology-possessed zombies we were warned about. The Look Up video guy is turning in his viral grave.

But now, the place you lay your head may not even be safe from the horrors of the internet. As the game increases in popularity, a number of people are realising that the people pulling up to their house at weird hours aren’t trying to hurt them – they’re just trying to battle other people to claim the house gym as their own! Phew.

In what is frankly a thinly veiled long con by Pope Francis most of the gyms are in churches. Some are also in pubs (if you are a business not taking advantage of this and marketing yourself with discounts, please hire a millennial pronto) or, more disconcertingly, houses. It’s not yet certain why some have been blessed with seeing a bulbasaur when they pee and Niantic (the company behind the game) have yet to respond to an email from The Spinoff asking about safety and privacy concerns.

Boon Sheridan of Massachusetts has also been afflicted by this problem. His house is a renovated church and he thinks this is to blame for his newfound aura of looking like a drug lord.

Early Saturday morning he realised something was afoot – specifically, teenagers.

“Folks were standing on the sidewalk facing my house while deep in their phones. On top of that, two cars I didn’t recognise were idling out front. A few minutes later, the two people moved on but two more came to take their place.”

Before Friday the daily average number of people pulling up to his house was less than one. The last two days have seen 12-16 a day.

“At this stage it’s more surprise than concern. Folks have respected the fence and no one’s been a jerk, so that’s heartening.

Lurkers outside Boon’s house (photo: Boon Sheridan)

“I have yet to talk to my neighbors but I’m sure they’ve noticed. I have to look sheepish and say, ‘this is totally not what you think it is’.

“It’s usually a quiet street so while it’s not a ton of extra cars I’m sure it’s noticeable. It would be no surprise if the cops take notice.”

Sheridan is going to give it a few days before contacting Niantic about the problem.

“I hope it’s easy to apply to have the gym removed since it is a private home. I like the idea of meeting new neighbors but past performance is no indicator of future success.”

Marlene from New Jersey is also a victim of eager pokémon hunters. She used to play a game – popular but not THIS popular – called Ingress.

“I set up a portal (the equivalent to a gym) in my front yard…it was never really an issue. Now with the Pokemon Go build I not only have a gym in my yard but a pokemon in my bed.”

While you can access the gym/ house – how am I even writing this story? – from the street, to catch the pokemon you need to be outside her bedroom window.

“I have no idea how they randomise where and when they appear,” she says. “But last night at least three groups of people came onto my property to play. The dogs heard first and started barking like mad.”

While Marlene isn’t too fussed – she plays the game and has lit incense to “lure” more pokemon (it’s in-game incense) – she says things might change later in the working week. “A few nights of waking up in the middle of the night and I may feel different.”

The issue of having a augmented reality forced upon your place of residence does pose interesting questions: does it increase the value of your property? Should the game developers be required to get permission from residents before putting them in potentially harmful and annoying situations? What about when people claim your house as their own because they won the gym? Shouldn’t you have a right to be the in-game home owner as well? Are these people going to pay taxes? I didn’t think so. It’s chaos.

And what of the people who have no idea about Pokemon Go? Like this old man from Canada whose house appears to be a gym (it’s actually the giant sculptures in his front lawn but he seems very confused by the whole thing).


In the meantime, it might pay to view the weirdness that is Pokemon Go as a type of Magenemite (Sheridan’s favourite pokémon). In a year full of darkness, a bunch of like-minded people coming together as a community doesn’t seem too bad. Or as Sheridan says of Magenemite:

“It’s a robot in a world full of monsters. How can you not love a floating robot eyeball with screws poking out in uncomfortable places?”

This rolling Pokémon coverage was brought to you with help from Bigpipe.

Illustrations by Sharon Lam

A letter to my future dog

Sharon Lam corresponds with the canine love of her life.
Mad Chapman, Editor
The Spinoff has covered the news that matters in 2021, most recently the delta outbreak. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

Get The Spinoff
in your inbox