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Iranians crazy for Pokemon Go despite ban

TEHRAN: Iran was quick to ban global gaming craze Pokemon Go, but as with many of the Islamic republic s internet controls, tech-savvy youths have carried on regardless.

In the ornate grounds of Mellat Park in Tehran, a teenage boy, buried in his phone, suddenly stops in front of a man sitting on a bench with his wife and young daughter — both covered from head to toe in the conservative black chador robes.

The family stops their conversation and stare at the boy, who appears to be pointing his phone at them. Then, the boy moves on, completely oblivious — his mind is in the virtual world of Pokemon.

Iran blocks many global news and social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter.

It banned Pokemon Go just a few days after it was released in early July, citing national security concerns because the wildly popular game leads users to real-life locations via GPS maps on their mobile phones.

“Because this game is a mixture of virtual and physical games, it can pose lots of problems for the country and people in terms of security,” deputy attorney general Abdulsamad Khoram Abadi told the Tasnim news agency on Friday.

He confirmed Pokemon Go had been unanimously banned by the High Council for Cyberspace.

“These games can become a means for directing guided missiles and even cause disruptions to ambulances and fire trucks,” Alireza al-Davoud, a hardliner-linked analyst told Tasnim, adding he feared the US developers of the game were using it to spy on Iran. – AFP