Man brutally attacked while playing Pokémon Go in Winston-Salem speaks out

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The man who was badly beaten while playing the game “Pokemon Go” in November is now out of the hospital.

Vinnie Mannino’s family and friends describe him as a true gamer. Walking around downtown Winston-Salem and playing Pokemon Go was part of his nightly routine. He’d interact with other players and get in his exercise.

One of those nights, Mannino became the victim of a seemingly random and brutal attack.

The scars on Mannino’s face are beginning to fade. It’s what you don’t see that’s still healing.

“I don’t feel necessarily as sharp as I once was,” he said. “I don’t feel like I process information quickly.”

Mannino has lived at home for about five weeks now.

“It’s really refreshing,” he added.

The 39-year-old spent more than a month in the hospital after he was attacked and brutally beaten while playing Pokemon Go. The augmented reality cell phone game requires players to walk to make it work.

“I was using it to personally get better at the game, but also to personally lose weight,” Mannino said.

Mannino says he never questioned his safety, even while playing at night. Until around 12:30 a.m. on November 14.

“I legitimately used to walk around with kind of a persona fake suit of armor thinking, ‘I’m a 300 pound, 6-foot tall guy, who’s ‘gonna mess with me?'”

Surveillance video shows Mannino walking down Liberty Street, his phone and game in hand. Another man, presumed to be the suspect, followed.

A friend found Mannino face down more than four hours after the attack, so badly beaten, the friend didn’t recognize him.

“I don’t remember any of the stages I went through, from ICU to the brain injury floor,” Mannino said.

His first memory came nearly a month after the attack, when his family described what had happened.

“I kind of thought that these were things that happened to somebody else, that this couldn’t have happened to me,” Mannino said.

But months after the attack, Mannino’s working to get back to his old self. He’s back to walking with a cane.

“I’ve met and exceeded expectation,” he said.

He’s also back to playing Pokemon Go.

“I’ve built up some really good friendships before what happened, and they’ve stuck with me,” Mannino said.

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