We all seem to have those bad eggs in our Pokémon Go communities — be it a quarrel over gym controls between teams, or debates between groups who support cheating and those who do not, but some people take it too far. In this fan submission from BenBrookerB on our Discord server, we get a glimpse into a struggle one community is facing against the toxic players in Pokémon Go.
When people talk about their local community, it’s almost always positive. People share the great times they have with this game. Most people have amazing communities with great people, but that’s not always the case. I’d like to share my community, if it can even be called that.
When I started to play Pokémon Go, it was great. Running around with my friends after rare creatures was so exciting. It was unlike any other game I’d ever played. It was so interactive and immersive. It fulfilled the dream every Pokémon fan has of becoming a real Pokémon trainer. Eventually, my friends stopped playing as the over excitement at the game’s launch faded away. I ended up playing the game mostly by myself. I’d head to town every weekend to xp grind and fill in my Pokédex. This all changed in the summer of 2017. When Niantic introduced raid battles into the game, I needed help. As most of my friends had stopped playing, I couldn’t take down powerful raid bosses. When legendary Pokémon became raid bosses, I knew I needed some sort of coordination between players to get them. That’s when I found out about a Facebook messenger group for organising raids. Perfect, just what I was looking for. I joined with no hesitation. Little did I know what this would lead to.
I had a blast that summer, running around the whole town, taking down legendary Pokémon. But then things started to change. Arguments broke out, people started leaving. I thought nothing at first. Then I noticed there was one person in particular who stood out in these arguments (let’s call him W). Why? Because he was involved in all of them.
He was starting the arguments, kicking people from the group and creating so much drama over a game. People started dropping like flies. Eventually, I brought up the topic to try and resolve it. I was kicked with no discussion. Promptly after, I was added to a new group formed by others who had been kicked out. I decided it would be best to stay away from W from now on. I carried on as usual, thinking that would be the end of it. It was only the beginning. The new group started to grow and grow as more people left the original chat or got kicked out. That’s when things escalated further.
W started to take things into real life. He’d shout and yell abuse at people he had kicked or had left for no reason. The threats continued on and on. People tried to avoid him, stay out of the drama but he wouldn’t let them. He even took it as far as following people around and yelling at them while playing. He even followed someone home. People from our group started playing less. The community was being ripped apart by one man. People started quitting the game. Not just casuals, dedicated level 40s who were loved by the community. Something needed to be done.
We knew we had to do something to stop this, it was ridiculous that a game was turning into this. We contacted Niantic, they didn’t do a thing. Some people got a reply saying that they should contact the police, others got replies stating that they had “taken the necessary precautions” but nothing changed. It seems that unless the in-game terms of service aren’t being broken, Niantic doesn’t care. We took Niantic’s advice and contacted our local police. They did nothing. They didn’t take the situation seriously, and I’m not surprised. It’s so much drama over a Pokémon game.
Those of us left keep playing, keep raiding and keep having fun to the best of our abilities. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met some amazing people through Pokémon Go but I don’t know how much more I and others alike can take. Despite this toxic state the community is in, I believe it can get better. I believe we can fix this community. Hope is not lost, we just need to keep persevering.
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