Taiwanese Police Struggle to Control Pokémon Go Fever

Taiwanese Police Struggle to Control Pokémon Go Fever

What you need to know

A stampede of Pokémon Go players hit Taipei over the weekend and police are having difficulty controlling the crowd. But Taiwan isn't the only Asian country trying to deal with swarms of gamers.

Pokémon Go fever has swept Taiwan since the mobile app game was released in the country on Aug. 6, and the madness shows no sign of abating.

In a YouTube video titled “[Pokemon go] Snorlax Gotcha! 一場與卡比獸的戰鬥” uploaded on Aug. 21, a sea of Pokémon Go players is seen swarming through the streets near Beitou Park in Taipei, hoping to "capture" Snorlax, a rare Pokémon monster. Time magazine is among the numerous media outlets to have picked up the video, saying “Pokémon go may have just shown us what the end of the world looks like.”

(YouTube video provided by 亭懿 王)

Xinbeitou, a well known tourist destination with its natural hot springs and Japanese-era historical sites, has become a popular location for Pokémon Go players due to many rare "monsters" that are said to have appeared in the area. As many as 12,000 gamers flooded the location over the weekend, leading to complaints by residents about the traffic jams, loud noise, and accumulating garbage.

Struggling to control the crowd, the district police have downloaded the “Go Radar” app to receive latest updates of Pokémon appearances in order to dispatch officers to the locations if necessary.

The Taipei City Police Department Beitou Precinct said it has written 474 tickets for illegal parking and 46 for running a red light or driving on the wrong side of the road between Aug. 11 and Aug. 22.

The Beitou Precinct also said it would not rule out asking the gaming company to reduce the number of “PokéStops,” free item drops, in Xinbeitou, and some police have said the government should do something about the issue.

The Traffic Division of the Taipei City Police Department said pedestrians can be fined up to NT$300 (US$10) if they obstruct traffic. Drivers and scooter riders can be fined NT$3,000 and NT$1,000 respectively for using their cell phones.

Taipei Rapid Transit Corp (TRTC) said people who inconvenience others by using their cell phones inappropriately on the MRT can be fined up to NT$7,500. The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) has also banned passengers from playing Pokémon Go at airport terminals.

Other Asian countries have also had difficulty handling Pokémon Go players.

Police in Bangkok, Thailand, are arresting motorists and pedestrians who play the game on 10 major roads in the city. This is said to reduce the growing number of road accidents the game has caused.

“A team of 50 officers equipped with mobile phone cameras will patrol the streets and take photos of violators,” the Bangkok Post reports.

Players can be fined up to 1,000 baht (US$28) if found playing Pokémon Go in an “inappropriate manner.”

Hiroshima City, Japan, last month asked Niantic, the company that created the game, to remove the Peace Memorial Museum from the game by Aug. 6 before a commemoration was to be held for the anniversary of the Hiroshima atomic bombing. The company did so approximately six hours before the ceremony.

Authorities in Singapore and the Philippines have advised players to "hunt" for Pokémon in pairs as a safety precaution, while Indonesia has warned the public against playing the game around government offices and the presidential palace.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole