The Mumbai police has turned to the game itself to spell out its policy on the wildly popular mobile game Pokemon Go. Days after the largest planned Pokemon Go event – Pokewalk Mumbai – did not go ahead, with organisers and police sparring over choice of venue, the police answered charges of being a spoilsport on Twitter.
In a GIF image uploaded on its official Twitter handle, a policeman is shown on the game’s signature green interface suddenly chancing up on Squirtle, one of characters in the Pokemon universe. Just as in the game, the policeman whips out a Pokeball and tosses it at the creature, capturing it inside.
With the Pokeball held triumphantly in the policeman’s hand, the GIF ends with the proclamation ‘Pokemon Can’t Go Out On Streets Causing Distraction’. Part of the police’s wider #RoadSafety campaign, the video has been retweeted nearly 600 times.
With users of the game meeting mishaps in the USA and Europe and with the number of planned Pokewalks in Mumbai multiplying in the two weeks since the game was launched, the police have asked Mumbaikars to be careful with playing.
“If the game is played in a protected or enclosed space, there is no harm. The problem arises when the users of the game are so engrossed that they do not notice their surroundings,” said Mumbai Police spokesperson, Deputy Commissioner of Police Ashok Dudhe.
He added, “We do not want to preach. We only want people to be careful while using the game.”
He also clarified that Saturday’s Pokewalk in South Mumbai could not go ahead as the organisers asked to use Azad Maidan, which the police said had been reserved for protests anticipated during the Monsoon Session of the Assembly.
Nevertheless, the GIF has attracted varied comments from Twitter users, of whom several urge the police to act against careless road crossing and some go as far to call for a ban to prevent accidents. Many users have suggested that the police devote their energies to catching criminals instead of monitoring the game’s users.
Sunchika Pandey, MD, Hat Media, which handles the police’s Twitter account, said that while conceptualising the GIF after conversations with Mumbai Police’s top brass, it was important to speak a language that the game’s users would relate to.
“Wherever we go these days, we see people playing this game. We have nothing against the game, just that you need to be attentive while playing it,” she said.