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'Pokémon GO' Makes People Violent? Washington Man Allegedly Assaults Other Players After Losing Gym

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Pokémon GO might not come to mind when talking about violence in video games, but one of its players allegedly assaulted another player over losing a gym.

If video games such as the Call of Duty series really do lead to violence among the youth, how can you explain an assault caused by the family friendly Pokémon GO?

'Pokémon GO' Player Attacks In Washington

Pokémon GO, the augmented reality game by Niantic Labs that was launched with massive hype in July 2016, has resulted in several untoward incidents. Examples include players trespassing on private property and causing traffic accidents.

A new report, however, appears to be the worst case of them all. According to Washington State TV station KATU News, three men were sitting on a park bench in the Burnt Bridge Creek Trail in Vancouver when a stranger pulled up and threatened them with a tire iron.

"He comes out of nowhere, yelling, 'Which one of you is Andy?' with a tire iron in his hand," said Andrew Otton. Otton's username on Pokémon GO is AndySamberg, and so he realized that the man was looking for him. According to Otton, he took control of a gym without realizing that another player had just claimed it.

"Hey, did you just take this gym from me? That's pretty messed up, man," the man very angrily said, according to Otton.

The incident allegedly did not just end with raised voices. According to Grayson Hagstrom, one of the people with Otton at the time, the man punched his friend several times. Hagstrom then got behind the angry man and started choking him to make him stop.

"I figured if he didn't have consciousness, he wouldn't be that tough."

It is unclear how the confrontation ended, but Otton and Hagstrom got the man's license plate and shared it on social media. Other people then revealed that this was not the first time that the man went on a Pokémon GO-related rampage.

According to court records over the incident, the suspect was identified as Stephen Jolly, who is now facing charges of assault and malicious mischief. He admitted hitting a table with his tire iron but denied punching Otton.

Violence In Video Games

The incident over Pokémon GO comes at a sensitive time for the industry, as video games are once again under the spotlight for allegedly causing the youth to become violent. Trump recently held a meeting with industry representatives over the violence in video games issue.

However, what the Pokémon GO confrontation proves is that it is not video games themselves that lead to instances of violence but rather the players themselves. There is nothing in the mobile game that may incite violent thoughts among players like the guns and combat of Call of Duty, but incidents like this still happen.

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