All (Pokemon) are welcome

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Churches are finding a new breed of visitors flocking to their doors and parking lots this summer, thanks to the Pokemon GO phenomenon.

The Rev. David Nelson, of Christ the King Episcopal Church in Houston, TX, reported via Facebook yesterday,

13669374_10157042809045063_4852854915894688681_oToday our parking lot had more traffic than ever on a weekday. It turns out that CTK is a huge hotspot for the new Pokemon Go game. People are traveling by car and by foot to our church, which a player told me is a “Level 4 gym” in the game. (That’s good). Since the heat index has been over 100 each day, we figured some water would be a welcome treat!

 

The Deseret News explains the game – and why it has people running to churches this summer.

The new Pokemon game has been touted as an augmented reality game, which puts players almost in a new world as they search for Pokemon. Using GPS tracking and location services, the game shows players their actual world through their smartphone screens, enhanced with images of Pokemon and clues on where to find them.

The game sends its users outside into the real world to find the Pokemon. Every so often, a Pokemon figure will pop up on the screen and users will have the chance to catch it with a Pokeball. Users will spend hours meandering through their towns to find the little creatures …

In addition to seeking your own Pokemon while walking down the street, the game will suggest different locations that are highly populated with the pocket monsters gamers can travel to.

And it looks like churches are the place to be, according to Kotaku, a gaming review website.

“The first thing I noticed after initially booting up Pokemon Go was that 70 percent of the landmarks near me were churches,” Patricia Hernandez wrote for Kotaku. “Actually, a lot of Pokemon Go players are being directed to churches so that they may collect new monsters and more items within the augmented reality game.” …

But why would a Pokemon game send so many people to church? It’s a good question, since, well, Pokemon’s connection to religion has been a little strained. Pokemon creator Satoshi Tajiri gave an interview once where he said that the games were created as a backlash to his own Christian parents, which is why some characters practice magic, gaming website P4R Gaming reported. * …

But, according to Hernandez, the Pokemon game may be sending people to church because it’s a safe location where users can play in peace.

*UPDATE: Readers have questioned the accuracy of the interview posted on P4R and linked by the Deseret Times article, citing a Time magazine interview with Satoshi Tajiri that makes no mention of religion. P4R does not link to the Time interview it purports to cite.
This does not appear to have affected the traffic running through churches with PokeStops attached.*

Read more here. Is your church on the a PokeMap?

 

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Paul Powers
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Paul Powers

There's a Pokemon gym in our parish parking lot.
(St. Martin's in the Fields, Keller, TX). We are trying to think of ways to make gamers feel welcome.
http://www.stmartininthefields.org/church-hospitality-pokemon-game/

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Susan Forsburg
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Susan Forsburg

There's a a Pokemon creature in the back parking lot of the San Diego Episcopal Church Center (in Ocean Beach where the Diocesan Offices are), and also a Pokestop. The portico of San Diego Cathedral (St Paul's, in Bankers Hill) is another Pokestop.

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David Carver
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David Carver

I know this isn't the Cafe's fault, since you're directly quoting The Deseret News, but I thought I should point out that the creator interview they link is apparently a fake - A couple people in the comments section under it have linked to the actual Time interview, which seems to describe his influences as rather more mundane/benign.

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Mary Jo Hudson
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We first noticed people coming on Saturday, parking their cars and going to our church sign which includes a large cross. Took us a couple of days before we realized what was happening. Great idea about the water - It's been hot here in Michigan also. We'll try that tomorrow.

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Alan Christensen
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Alan Christensen

Interesting use of the game for outreach! I read today about a right-wing preacher who claims Satan is using Pokémon Go to target Christians for assassination. This approach is saner, to say the least!

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