Pokemon GO is a location-based augmented reality mobile game released in July 2016 for iOS and Android devices that went viral surprisingly quickly. People are searching for Pokemon everywhere – literally everywhere: in parks, rivers and hotels; in bathrooms, public toilets and in dustbins; on the streets, on animals and even on other people.The game’s main aim is to “catch them all” but, on top of that, the users can challenge others for a fight (special arenas are prepared for it). All that is possible on phones that have cameras and can use GPS. But beware: it’s addictive!
The game received a mixed critical opinion: negative comments are based mainly on the number of accidents caused by people staring at their phones, not noticing the surrounding world at all; the supporters, in turn, stress that it is a rare phenomenon when a game makes people go out and walk long distances, which means health benefits for the users.
The users themselves are fascinated with little animated creatures appearing just in front of them and are downloading the app in record-breaking numbers.
There is, however, a clear dark side of the app: its creators seem not to have thought thoroughly enough about where the users would go hunting for Pikachu. Cases of catching Pokemon in places of worship, like cemeteries and memorial sites (including the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oświęcim, Poland and the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, USA) have already been reported across the world.
“People come here to contemplate the events from the past”
The former Nazi-German concentration camp is a place of an unimaginable horror and human drama. It’s a memorial site that people visit not only to get to know the history but also to contemplate the tragic events from the past, to pray… It’s beyond words that someone could consider the Museum a place where they can play games, – comments Bartosz Bartyzel of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
Similar thoughts have been publicly expressed by the people of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC and of the Arlington National Cemetery. Other public institutions will most certainly share this view in the upcoming days, trying to force both the producers of Pokemon GO and its users to rethink their strategy and exclude particular sites from the game’s “arena”.