Pokémon Go sparks chaos and concern in France

Gaming phenomenon Pokémon Go officially arrived in France on Sunday, and while gamers are undoubtedly thrilled, police and some politicians definitely don’t count themselves as fans.

Pokémon Go sparks chaos and concern in France
Teenagers sprint through a park in Bordeaux, not in panic, but in search of a rare Pokemon. Photo: MonsieurBright/YouTube

If you’re in France and you’re wondering why you’ve suddenly started seeing a lot more people than usual with eyes glued to their smartphones, now you know why.

The arrival of Pokémon Go in France has prompted scenes like those in a Bordeaux park that were caught on video that you’d think were people running in blind panic from something sinister.

But in reality they were just racing to catch a particularly rare Pokémon.

The arrival of the game has also provoked some worried reactions in France.

Police have issued warnings on Twitter urging gamers to play with caution.

“Drivers, do not play Pokémon Go,” the Gendarmerie Nationale tweeted before the game’s release. “Pedestrians, use extra caution.”

They also advised parents to caution their children against wandering off alone or onto private property while playing the game, and to watch out for thieves.

Laurence Rossignol, France’s Minister of Families, Childhood, and Women’s Rights, tweeted a photo with the sarcastic caption: “Great! A new game to promote exchanges, curiosity, and attention to others.”

She was subsequently bombarded with responses taking issue with this negative perception of the game. 

“Yeah, it’s horrible isn’t it?” wrote the Twitter user below. 

France's consumer’s association UFC Que Choisir called the game “expensive, dangerous, and too curious.”

The association stressed the risks of playing the game, citing examples of accidents in the US between pedestrians and also car accidents caused by players who were too absorbed in catching 'em all. 

It also said that Pokémon Go players become prime targets for thieves. 

“It also has the right to collect your age, sex, country of residence, birth date, along with your hobbies, toys, and favorite games,” said UFC Que Choisir, adding that “advertisements and certain content can be displayed by using this data.”


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French mayor bans Pokemon Go app from his village

Bressolles, a small village almost smack bang in the middle of France, has become the first in France to try and ban the new gaming sensation Pokemon Go.

French mayor bans Pokemon Go app from his village
Photo: AFP
The mayor of Bressolles, Fabrice Beauvois, believes Pokemon Go is simply too much of a threat to his 800-strong community. 
He made headlines on Wednesday after signing a municipal decree to ban the game, and he reportedly contacted the game's producer Niantic in an effort to get the village wiped off the Pokemon map, reported Le Progres newspaper
Beauvois said that the game caused “too much distraction for pedestrians and for motorists who are looking at their phones while driving”.
He said that he believed it was his duty to prevent what he called “a contagious and uncontrolled spread of the phenomenon”, not to mention that it is “dangerously addictive” for young people.
He also called for people to form evening groups in a bid to help prevent people from playing the game. 
While such a ban might be hard to enforce without the help of Niantic, the mayor is not wrong to think the game can be dangerous.

Indeed, France has already seen several accidents involving motorists and Pokemon. 
In July France saw at least two car accidents because of the game. And some teens were arrested in southern France for bursting into a police barracks trying to hunt Pokemon
And while no village or town in France has managed to ban the game yet, it has been banned from certain sites. 
Earlier this month, a French World War I memorial was removed from Pokemon Go following complaints about players gathering to do battle at a site containing the remains of 130,000 soldiers.
Elsewhere, authorities in Iran banned the app over unspecified “security concerns”, with the Pentagon in the US urging its troops to avoid the game too.
French teens storm police barracks in hunt for PokemonPhoto: AFP