We’ve now moved into Day 7 of Pokémon Go’s stranglehold on the Western world, a reign of terror that’s encompassed dead bodies, inappropriate PokéStops, and the horrors of exercise. And still, the fervor continues. (Absolutely true admission: The previous sentence was paused mid-word because a wild Staryu wandered into the room.) But the Pokémon Go ecosystem has been steadily evolving for a full week now, which means we’ve reached a key stage in the evolution of any set of rules: the bit where everybody tries to break them like the sneaky cheating bastards that they are.
On the most basic level, there’s the stories—reported by The Daily Dot—of people taping their cellphones and tablets to ceiling fans in order to psyche out the games’ GPS and pedometer (which determines how far you’ve walked in order to hatch your precious, precious Poké-eggs.) Not coincidentally, these stories match up nicely with the ones about people who now need new screens for their tablets and smartphones, because they taped theirs to a ceiling fan so they could give birth to imaginary monsters, and it broke. (Still better than anybody who falls for the old “put your cellphone in the microwave” prank, though.)
But the web of lies and Lickitungs goes deeper, with a New York Post story about a man whose girlfriend discovered a new entry in his Pokedex—one that listed its “caught” location as his ex-girlfriend’s house. (Pokémon Go tracks its users’ locations, both for fun, and also to identify the few remaining holdouts from its complete domination of the world.) Needless to say, she kicked him to the curb like a CP 10 Rattata that was barely worth the Pokéball you spent to snag it.
Or how about Zach Hartmann, a Michigan man who’s put together a GoFundMe account to support his life’s goal: dropping out of college to catch all the Pokémon in the game. Hartmann lays out his dream thusly:
Since I was a young boy my hero has been Ash Ketchum. I wanted everything that he did. I too wanted to be the very best. As I grew up I realised this dream I had was only that, a dream. But when I woke up Thursday morning I knew it was no ordinary day. I awoke with this sudden hope that I later learned to be the release of Pokémon Go.
Response to Hartmann’s campaign has been less than positive—one commenter wrote, “For making this campaign, you deserve to catch something and it certainly isn’t Pokémon”—but that’s apparently okay. “Totally doing it as a joke guys..” Hartmann wrote in a subsequent update. “My biggest hope from this is to get on Ellen so everyone can chill.” (Getting on Ellen is considered the “catching Mewtwo” of dumb internet jokes.)
Morning chat show fame was the opposite, though, of what writer Ivy St. Ive was seeking when she made her own stab at becoming a Pokémountebank. Ive posted a Craigslist ad yesterday, offering to catch and train people’s monsters for them at a rate of $20 per hour. (The deal was, she’d log onto your account, catch that pesky Pikachu, and then hand it back to you.) Apparently, the ad mostly garnered interest from media sites, and “creeps asking me out for drinks and coffee,” but the possibility of the game’s publisher, Niantic, catching wind of Ive’s terms-of-service-violating hustle and banning her account forced her to quickly retire. (It’s probably for the best, although at least one of Ive’s prospective clients was a woman with difficulty walking who wanted to beat her overly competitive husband, which seems like a pretty noble goal.)
So, with all this deception, backstabbing, and skirting of the rules, is Pokémon Go bringing any good into the world? Are we all doomed to live in a dystopian hellscape where a stranger on the street will shank you for a lousy Pidgey? Those looking for a little hope can look, as always, to Indiana, where a Muncie animal shelter has attempted to leverage this sudden, monster-based interest in walking for a little bit of good. “Trying to hatch an egg or catch rare Pokémon?” the shelter’s Facebook post reads. “Come down to the Muncie Animal Shelter to walk one of our dogs while you get your steps in! Just come to the front desk and say you are here for the Pokémon dogs!” The post writer resists the urge to point out that people might want to adopt and help an actual animal, instead of a virtual one, while they’re at it, which suggests they possess a more patient and moral character than our own.