In Brief

How Pokemon Go caused chaos for the Canadian military

Officers at army bases tasked with playing the game following influx of civilian fans

The rise of Pokemon Go left the Canadian military struggling to deal with a surge in trespassing, newly released documents have revealed.

The files - which include correspondence between military officials - have finally been handed over to Canadian national broadcaster CBC in response to an information request made more than three years ago, shortly after the mobile phone game was released. The news organisation made the request in July 2016 after spotting a criminal advisory warning police that many defence locations were “game landmarks”.

Or to put it another way, civilians were wandering onto restricted and often highly sensitive operational bases in search of Pokemon - fantasy pocket animals - that players “catch” with their smartphones.

In one incident, documented just three days after the app was first launched, two men drove a van into an air base outside Toronto at midnight. A corporal who confronted the occupants found them playing Pokemon Go on their phones.

The sudden influx of trespassers sparked a flurry of anxious emails from military bosses.

“Plse [sic] advise the Commissionaires that apparently Fort Frontenac is both a PokeGym and a PokeStop,” wrote a major at a base in Kingston, Ontario. “I will be completely honest in that I have no idea what that is.”

“There’s a game out there taking off like gangbusters, and it requires people to move to digitally cached locations to get points,” said a colonel in Petawawa, west of Ottawa.

“The game’s premise seems to be going to the ‘PokeStops/Gyms’ to collect ‘Pokemons’ (we should almost hire a 12-year-old to help us out with this),” wrote a security expert at a base in Borden, Ontario.

The newly released files show that a woman was caught playing the game at the Borden base while her three children climbed over tanks. In a separate breach, a man stopped by officers there explained: “I had to beat my kids [at the game].”

As part of the response to the sudden influx of players, at least three military police officers were tasked with playing Pokemon Go at various bases, logging the appearance and location of wild monsters, PokeGyms and PokeStops, the BBC reports.

But not everyone viewed the Pokemon Go trend as entirely negative. One major in Petawawa wrote that the game might encourage more people to visit the base’s military museum.

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