US Holocaust Museum asks visitors to stop chasing Pokemon

Cartoon monsters also spotted at ‘PokeStops’ in former Nazi death camp Auschwitz, New York’s Ground Zero memorial

A group of friends play Pokemon Go on their smartphones at Union Square, July 11, 2016 in New York City. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)
A group of friends play Pokemon Go on their smartphones at Union Square, July 11, 2016 in New York City. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)

Visitors to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum have been asked to refrain from playing the wildly popular augmented reality game Pokemon Go while at the memorial to the 6 million Jews slaughtered by Nazi Germany.

Images circulating online in recent days showed the game’s cartoon monsters at several locations inside the Washington, DC, museum, prompting administrators to seek to have the memorial removed from the mobile game, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

“Playing the game is not appropriate in the museum, which is a memorial to the victims of Nazism,” museum communications director Andrew Hollinger told The Post. “We are trying to find out if we can get the museum excluded from the game.”

Hollinger told the paper the museum is generally open to new technology, and encourages visitors to share their experiences of visiting the exhibits on social media. “But this game falls very much outside that,” he said.

“On Monday afternoon, there were plenty of people inside the museum who seemed to be distracted from its haunting exhibits as they tried to ‘catch ’em all,’ as the Pokémon slogan goes,” the Post report said.

The game uses GPS and mapping capabilities in mobile phones to let players roam the real world to find “PokeStops” stocked with supplies and hunt cartoon character monsters to capture and train for battles.

Washington’s Holocaust museum is not the only memorial landmark to host a game PokeSpot. Since its launch last week, gamers have reported PokeStops in other controversial locations, including New York’s Ground Zero memorial and the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz.

An anonymous gamer on Monday informed New York Magazine that he was able to capture a Rattata monster while visiting the Auschwitz museum.

The free application based on a Nintendo title that debuted 20 years ago has been adapted to the mobile internet age by Niantic Labs, a company spun out of Google last year after breaking ground with Ingress, a game that merged mapping capabilities with play.

Ingress ran into similar problems when it was released in 2015.

After players were seen battling for control of Auschwitz, Dachau and Sachsenhausen was met with outrage, the company removed the former Nazi camps from game locations.

“After we were made aware that a number of historical markers on the grounds of former concentration camps in Germany had been added, we determined that they did not meet the spirit of our guidelines and began the process of removing them in Germany and elsewhere in Europe,” Ninatic said in a statement at the time.

On Tuesday, Pokemon Go had been downloaded millions of times, topping rankings at official online shops for applications tailored for smartphones powered by Apple or Google-backed Android software.

According to the research firm SimilarWeb, the game was downloaded in more than five percent of Android phones in the first two days of release and had outpaced the dating app Tinder.

Agencies contributed to this report.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed