ON JULY 10th police in O’Fallon, a Missouri town of about 80,000 people, made a statement about the modus operandi of an armed gang that had been using “Pokémon Go”, a video game, to prey on the locals. “You can add a beacon to a Pokéstop to lure more players,” the lawmen explained. “Apparently they [the muggers] were using the app to locate people standing around in the middle of a parking lot or whatever other location they were in.”

If that sounds like gibberish, it might be best to consult your nearest teenager. “Pokémon Go” is the latest instalment of the Pokémon franchise from Nintendo, a Japanese gaming firm. Smartphone users take part in a sort of lighthearted digital dog-fighting, in which the protagonists are not canines but cute magical animals discovered and trained by players, and then sent to battle rivals owned by others. It began as a video game in 1996, but has since branched out into collectible cards, toys, books, TV shows and comics, grossing an estimated $47 billion in the process.

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