Pokémon Go, a video game app which uses locations in the real world, has caused a huge stir around the world. Within the game, real life locations are turned into PokeStops and gyms, where players can collect items and battle their Pokémon, fictional animals, with other players.
Some have shown concern about possible insensitivities – some memorials and sacred sites, including the Auschwitz Memorial, have been turned into gaming locations within the app. Concerns have also been raised about people constantly looking at their phones and the risk this causes to safety, especially on the roads.
Many people playing the game however, feel as though complaints are yet another example of people dissing that which they don’t understand. The game has also been praised for inspiring players to get out into the real world and meet other players in their local area. Pokémon can be caught on the street, and PokeStops are littered all over the place – including at churches.
Victoria Park and Districts Star St Uniting Church has discovered they are one such location, with a gym and a stop on site. Spearwood Uniting Church, Uniting Church in the City and the Uniting Church Centre have also been spotted as PokeStops, and it is likely there are many more Uniting Church WA sites within the game.
Rev Gordon Scantlebury, minister at Victoria Park and Districts Star St Uniting Church, said that while he’s not playing the game himself, it does provide an opportunity for inter-generational communication.
“If you find your [church] suddenly on the Pokémon network say they are welcome!” Gordon said.
“I would say open the doors, set up cups of tea and good coffee and chat, interact, find out about it.
“We’ve got all sorts of different groups using the place at the moment; a Sri Lankan Buddhist group, yoga, three different church groups, we’ve got everything. So throw in Pokémon!
“Refugees and Pokémon trainers welcome here,” Gordon said.
Download Pokémon Go on Android from the Play Store or on iPhone at the App Store.