There’s Pokemon But No Internet


It’s hard to know who to believe, these days. Mainstream media reporting in USA Today? Or YouTube video uploaded from the Playa?

USA Today say Burning Man Pokemon Appear Most Elusive Yet. They say there are no Pokemons because there is no Internet available to Burners this year:

Burning Man organizers say they’ve deliberately chosen not to provide Internet service to ensure participants remain present, instead of focusing on outside distractions. Whiteboards are how you leave messages, and paper maps replace GPS for the week

Last month in Intel’s IQ Magazine, BMOrg Tech Dominatrix Heather Gallagher aka “Camera Girl” said that Burners should not take connectivity for granted, and that they were seriously considering disabling Internet access for participants:

Burners have limited access to the network, and cellular network providers have put up temporary service nodes. Although the connections are critical to setting up and running the event, Gallagher said participants certainly shouldn’t depend on them during the event.

“There are days we wonder if we should just take away participant network,” Gallagher said, as being plugged in goes against Burning Man’s emphasis on immediate engagement. “Most of the time I would say the more disconnected, the better the experience.”


iPhones are against Burning Man’s Principles (Androids are fine though):

Several of Burning Man’s core principles run counter to constant iPhone use, including the requirements for both participation and immediacy.


Niantic/Google have mapped all the streets, but the Pokemons can’t survive in the harsh conditions so, like last year’s CIA bugs, they’re not there.

Thousands of people flooding into the desert for Burning Man are about to run into a dusty, disconnected reality: the wildly popular Pokémon Go game doesn’t work here.

Although Black Rock City appears in the Pokémon Go app, there’s no Pokémon to capture, putting to rest fears technology would irrevocably alter the Burning Man experience.


Each year brings new fears of how iPhones, Facebook or Snapchat will alter the event. There was scattered speculation in advance of this year that hunters of the virtual monsters — which appear to smartphone users via augmented reality transposed over actual surroundings — would be scouring the playa. One Burning Man participant even mocked up a Poké-map, further stoking the rumors.

But it’s not so.

As in years past, there’s some cellphone service, and it’s getting slower every day as more and more people pour into the area. AT&T appears to have the best service, with full LTE coverage in camp. Verizon appears to have 3G service, and Sprint users can pretty much just text. Service usually grinds to halt by about Wednesday, although there’s sometimes better service in the middle of the night when more people are asleep…there’s nary a selfie stick in sight


There is a Facebook group dedicated to Pokemon Go at Burning Man. They have 38 members attending the meetup.

pokemon burning man

There are 2 Reddit threads  Pokemon Go at Burning Man and Will There Be Pokemon Go In BRC?

Pokemon Go software development teams are shutting their company down to go to Burning Man:

“We just realized that Insta-PokeGo was basically like Burning Man. Get a team together, spend thousands of hours building something beautiful, and then burn it to the ground after a week.

Google has long used Burning Man for their geospatial intelligence research.

And then there’s this…

pokemon burning man map


BMOrg says “no comment” rather than “we encourage software developers to bring their latest products to our beta test site, especially if they are large donors”

18 comments on “There’s Pokemon But No Internet

  1. “Fax mentis incendium gloria cultum, et cetera, et cetera… Memo bis punitor delicatum!”

    “The worship of the glory of the burning of the torch of the mind, and so on, and so on… Remember the punishing twice a delight!”

    Good day, Sir!

    -RIP Willy Wonka

  2. Pingback: There’s Pokemon But No Internet | Pokemon GO Gameplay Top Tips

  3. I haven’t been in a long time, are people really walking around with their cell phones out there?

    I remember my last year, a woman started up a 10,000 watt generator so she could charge her phone. She got really angry with me when I suggested that was inefficient.

  4. “Several of Burning Man’s core principles…” can be spun to mean whatever the Borg wants.

    Externally imposed rules take away rights of burners and empower those who have disenfranchised them. If particpation is YOUR goal, and you spend all your time on your phone, then YOU don’t particpate. It’s not the business of anyone else. Hell, you can show up in an RV, sleep 18 hours a day, and watch DVDs the rest of the time. Who’s business is that?

    Wanna take bets on if the CCamps have Wifi? …DVD players?

  5. Who the fuck would want go to burning man to do pokemon? For real. I went. It was many things.
    Just, no. If i were there and saw someone doing pokemon or any other app, i would be tempted to walk in front of them, backwards, while pissing in their path. They don’t let you piss wherever anymore do they…
    Whatever happened to the good old days of BR animal control where they trapped people in nets and gave them collars?
    Just. WTF.

    • After you paid $10,000 for your privileged accommodations, and found yourself with the same Mountain View crowd as last weekend, you might spend some time on your phone instead of bothering to deal with the dusty commoners. After all, it’s not like they are allowed into your camp bar now are they…

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