"Pokemon GO!" getting people to go to church?


Seems that’s the case after a fashion. For those living under a rock in recent weeks, Pokemon GO! is the most successful “augmented reality” app for your phone to date. It’s based on Nintendo’s long lived Pokemon Series of games. In this version however you are actually rewarded for leaving your house and exploring their “augmented” version of the real world to collect the titular Pokemon characters which have been placed all around the real world. Part of the game also includes so-called “gyms” where you can “battle” and collect special characters in the game. Gyms are established using landmark geodata from a previous game by Pokemon GO!'s developers. Included among those landmarks are many churches world wide. As a result, churches and their campuses have become an integral part of this new game.

Here are just a few of the stories regarding this new phenomenon. It can obviously have some benefits for churches since it’s getting people to them, but will it also have a darker disruptive side? :shrug:



Yeah, pretty sure this won’t work too well. If Ingress didn’t do it, this won’t either.

Worth a shot though.


Well Pokemon GO! is exponentially more popular than Ingress ever was, so it’s bound to have more of an impact on sheer volume alone. For example on Android phones, Pokemon GO is about to have more daily active users than one of the two major social media app, Twitter. That’s huge. Ingress wasn’t even a blip on the radar by comparison.


I let my son get this app on his phone, and when we were at mass yesterday, he told me that our church was a “Pokestop” and there were things he could collect for the game there! :bounce: :bounce: :bounce:

A little hard to keep a 12yo focused on the mass when he knows there’s stuff related to his game right outside the back door just waiting for him to go collect it! :eek:

On the other hand, he thought it was totally cool that his own church was a Pokestop!


Reading the stories, it seems it would be more disruptive than beneficial. Since I live under a rock I don’t you how close you have to be, but if people are tweeting that they left their office to catch a Pokemon on the street, doesn’t seem that people would be going to Church for the long haul.

I can just see someone coming in during morning Mass… “Pardon me, padre. I just need to get this charmander off that table thing and then I’ll go.”


Yeah I believe Pokestop and Gym are used interchangeably. They’re the places in the game where you can collect a bunch of extra stuff you wouldn’t find just anywhere. I read an article last night I can’t for the life of me find about a guy who lives in a church that was “decommissioned” about 40 year ago. But because they used some old geodata the game creators still saw it as an active church, and as a result his home is now a Pokestop and he’s had hoards of people knocking on his door looking to wander around his yard and home searching for Pokemon.

It was this story that made me think this could definitely have a bad dimension to it as well. Especially since those coming into the churches looking for Pokemon might not know what kind of disruption they’re causing if they choose the wrong time to come in. Say during a Catholic adoration or a mass at any number of denominations churches. Then again, who knows, if it causes some people to experience church for the first time in years, or ever, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.


I just asked my son, and he said the Pokestop was outside the building, basically at the cornerstone of the church, about 15 feet from the front doors. I would imagine that most people wouldn’t attempt to come into the church, but would just go to that corner outside the building. :shrug:

Well, here’s hoping anyway.


Will they go to pray, become holy or draw closer to God?

Let a few places remain sacred!


Well, obviously it would behoove churches to find out if they’re a Pokestop, and do some friendly evangelization there if they are.

People love free stuff.


It would be real awkward if someone was to come into the church while the Mass was going on, just to collect a Pokemon. Is it wrong to find this thought somewhat amusing as well?


To quote the most honorable President, “If we can save just ONE child…”

Haha just kidding…

I caught one drinking a beer in my lawn chair on my driveway.


I thought this was a kids game…why would adults be interested in wasting time like this?

Not to mention, since when did Pokeman become popular again, didnt that die out like 10-15 yrs ago?


Yes. That’s why 25 year olds are having fun with it. They were the kids.


Even older. The current 30 year olds were like 12 when that was at its peak popularity.


I’m 29… I recall this being cool in about 7th grade roughly. Maybe… 2000? My best guess would be 1999-2001 for peak popularity.

It’s going to fizzle out soon but it’ll be fun to goof around with for a week.


Pokemon was popular among my friends in high school and I graduated about a year ago. There are a lot of teens and young adult fans now. It’s not just the games. It’s the designs. Most of them just look too cool. Someone might never touch the games, but, still like to browse Pokemon art online.


My entire family is slung up in PokemonGo. I like it!


We’ll see. Pokemon has actually remained quite popular with kids even in the current little kid generation.


It’s a holdover from Ingress.

In the Ingress lore, “portals” have a connection to displays of creativity and culture. So you find them at things like parks, government buildings, public art displays, and churches. The PoGo map is basically the Ingress map with a few locations removed a new coat of paint on it.

I’ve come across several people who think going to church full stop is just plain weird. “Why on earth would Niantic make points of interest out of churches?” But the game requires them to be on location. Getting them to go inside is another matter entirely.

Nintendo/Niantic knew it too! Look at the Pokemon Go trailer and who is actually playing the game. It’s all adults. Parents, career people…not a single person is under 18 and quite a few look like they are in their 30’s. They knew EXACTLY who their audience was.


Perhaps, but each of the 6(?) generations of Pokémon game has sold 15-20+ million units each. Now add augmented reality to keep people entertained. The hype will fade, but I’m sure there are dedicated people who will be virtually catching things for month if not years. I pretty much found augmented reality games fun for about 30 minutes before I got bored.

That’s the real appeal. We, as a culture, want life to be entertaining. Why interact with people at these churches, parks, landmarks, et cetera when you can be entertained by a pocket monster on the sidewalk?

I do wonder how certain religious groups feel about critters that look a bit like demons dancing on their churches, mosques, et cetera. I suspect someone is going to take offense eventually, but I suspect noone took into account how people might feel about their places of worship being used as the backdrop for a silly game.

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