Since the release of Pokémon GO, gamers have been on a mission to catch ’em all, exploring every nook and cranny in their city to capture as many Pokémon as they can. The new mobile game from Niantic Labs blends the popular franchise with virtual reality, turning the real world into a digital playground for Pokémon lovers.
Among the things players can do while searching for Pokémon is explore nearby landmarks, schools and parks, which are often digital Gyms (to battle) or PokéStops (where they can get free in-game items like Poké Balls). While many have praised Pokémon GO for encouraging gamers to get outside and explore their city, not everyone is happy with some of Pokémon GO’s locations.
While many business, parks, and public buildings (like libraries) have embraced Pokémon GO and used the game to encourage customers or visitors, the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. is not one of them. The Holocaust Museum is currently featured as an in-game PokéStop, which means it’s drawing attraction from Pokémon GO players looking for free items. In fact, there are three PokéStops associated with various parts of the museum, something the museum’s communications director is not too happy about.
“Playing the game is not appropriate in the museum, which is a memorial to the victims of Nazism,” Andrew Hollinger, the museum’s communications director, told The Post. “We are trying to find out if we can get the museum excluded from the game.”
While the company goes through all the formalities, a Care2 petition has been created to help speed up the removal process.
“It’s incredible how hugely popular this game is, and a lot of my friends love it. But I think many fans of Pokémon Go can agree that there are some places that are for mourning and reflection, like the Holocaust Museum,” writes Valerie Janovic, author of the petition which has now gathered over 1,600 signatures. “As a Jew, I think it’s inappropriate to be playing virtual reality games there. I started my Care2 petition to support the Holocaust Museum, which has said it wants to be excluded from the game.”
Disrespecting the victims of Nazism aside, there’s an even more disturbing element factoring in. An image circulating online shows a Koffing, a Pokémon that emits poisonous gas, found inside the Holocaust Museum.
Part of the petition reads:
“It’s absurd that this game is drawing people to the memorial space for millions of men, women, and children who were systematically murdered in excruciating pain just to catch a bright yellow Pikachu.
With this game you can hear the stories of women whose new babies were ripped from their arms and fed to dogs by bored Nazis while searching for Charizard, the fiery dragon.
Or see piles of shoes from the victims of Nazi Doctor Mengele’s deadly human experiments, like the one in which he tortured a man to see how much pain he could withstand, or removed a person’s limbs to see how many body parts a human actually needs to live, while looking for Jigglypuff, an adorable pink Pokémon.
Encouraging young people to play a game in the same space where we pay tribute to those who were worked until they were skeletal or suffocated to death in gas chambers is insensitive and wrong.”
The Holocaust Museum isn’t the only place where people have problems with Pokémon GO. Others have complained that cemetaries are also often locations for Gyms and PokéStops.
On one hand, it can be seen as disrespectful to have players capturing Pokémon in a memorial for the millions that died at the hands of Nazis. Then again, perhaps Pokémon GO getting kids in the door is a good first step to them educating themselves further and perhaps learning something.
Do you think memorials and museums, such as the Holocaust Museum, should be removed from Pokémon GO?