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Pokémon Go Street Etiquette: Dos and Don'ts

How to behave while playing the augmented-reality game taking the streets by storm

Pokémon Go has taken the nation by storm, and with anything that becomes wildly popular, there’s some inevitable bad behavior.

A slew of crimes—mostly robberies—have been reported all across the country, including Pokémon Go graffiti at park in Washington, D.C. (Said graffiti was later scrubbed off by members within the local Pokémon Go community.)

Game players have also found themselves in places that would otherwise be deemed completely inappropriate for any type of game play, but for some reason are still choosing to engage in Pokémon Go.

Let’s face it: Pokémon Go is addicting, and people are abandoning their good manners and general smartness in order to catch a rare Pokémon (or god forbid a Zubat, which is about as rare as spotting a pigeon on any street corner or a rat on an NYC subway platform).

But we—ahem, I—want you to get back to being a better member of society, so here’s an etiquette guide to playing Pokémon Go in the urban environment.


  • Be a good sport (and neighbor) by using a Lure Module (you can spot them via the cascade of signature pink petals) at the Poke Stops in your neighborhood.
  • Buy goods from the restaurants and retails stores that you enter because you want to catch Clefairy or Bulbasaur. Tip extra if you stay longer than an average customer.
  • Lighting an incense releases a mysterious fragrance that lures Pokémon to your location. If you’re trying to catch Pokémon in a group, light an incense for the benefit of your whole squad.
  • Put your phone away when the vibe isn’t right. Trust your instincts.
  • When traveling with a group of Pokémon Go players, carry a fully charged external battery for group use.
  • Actually read the info that the Poke Stop has to tell you. You will learn so much about your city from this game.
  • Explore new places! One the best things about Pokémon Go is it gets people to places in their city that they’ve never visited before. Make sure you actually look up from your phone every now and then to really take in the beautiful city you call home.


  • If you are a grownup who is childless, please don’t loiter around a playground trying to catch ‘em all. You are creeping out all the parents who are there with their kids.
  • You get a vibration, which alerts you to a Mewtwo in your area. You rightfully freak out. That said, don’t run into the street if that’s where Mewtwo is. Try your best to catch ‘em from the sidewalk, and out of the two lines of direct traffic on the sidewalk.
  • Don’t play Pokémon Go in cemeteries, synagogues, churches, hospitals, or memorials. If you accidentally wander into one, politely tuck your phone into your pocket and quietly see yourself out.
  • Be respectful of people who live in the neighborhood where you’re trying to catch Pokémon, especially if you do so at night. Unbeknownst to bewildered homeowners and occupants, many structures—including homes—have been turned into Pokémon gyms without approval of the property manager or homeowner. Don’t litter, yell, or act rowdy. You are making it unpleasant for the folks who call that place home.
  • Stairwells should be avoided at all costs! (Full disclosure: I took the stairs work to see if I could find any rare Pokémon, and instead tripped and fell down a few steps. Thankfully I did not seriously injure myself, but I easily could have.)
  • If you’re going to play Pokémon Go on public transit, be extra diligent about protecting yourself against theft and also making sure you provide room for those who might need access to the space you’re occupying.
  • Be mindful of where you walk at all times, but especially during rush hour. No stopping on the sidewalk during rush hour, no exceptions. If you get a buzz and think there’s a Pokémon worth catching, go with the flow of traffic until you have a step or doorway or somewhere else out of the way to actually catch it.
  • It’s always good manners to be friendly, but don’t be intrusive to others around you you suspect of playing Pokémon Go at the same time you are. They might not want to talk to you, and that’s their right. Don’t push it.
  • And finally, if you’re not playing the augmented-reality game, don’t shame others who are. That’s just mean and bitter.

Feeling like you’d ace a a Pokémon Go etiquette test? Great! Now go out and catch ‘em all.