As you may have heard a new game app was released last week called Pokémon Go, which uses GPS to lead players through a virtual reality structured around real-life locations. Within 5 days of its US launch, the game had amassed 8 million downloads, and with a similar response already being experienced in the UK, this game and others like it have the potential to have a major impact on our public landscape.
And your church may already be involved – whether you realise it or not!
Many churches are being used as locations, either to find characters in the game (‘PokéStops’) or as places for players to meet and do battle (‘gyms’). If your church has been designated as a PokéStop or a ‘gym’ you may notice groups of people who stay for a period of time.
While this may feel like it is coming somewhat out of the blue, there is an opportunity for churches to connect with and welcome new groups, making them a place for people to meet and socialise, and we have received reports already of churches welcoming players in.
Please make sure you read the advice on the NSPCC’s website here: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/pokemon-go-parents-guide/
The Church of England has provided some guidance as follows, which may help you to respond to this phenomenon:
POKEMON GO FOR CHURCHES
First of all, what is Pokémon Go?
Pokémon GO is a mobile and tablet app game which lets players find Pokémon (animated creatures, first created in the 90s, which players have to catch, train and battle with). The game takes place in augmented reality (meaning the game combines real life action with virtual gaming) by using GPS as you walk around towns, cities and other locations to find the Pokémon.
The game has been an overnight sensation with millions playing it around the world.
Why does your church need to know?
Your church might be a ‘PokéStop’ - real life buildings and landmarks that players have to visit to get certain items they need to play the game. Your church could also be a ‘Gym’ where players can battle their Pokémon. (Being Gym means people spend significantly more time battling Pokémon.)
Pokémon Go is therefore giving churches around the country a great opportunity to meet people from their area who might not normally come to church. However, we all need to be aware that this game means that children under the age of 18 may come into contact with people who may present a risk.
How do you know if your church is a Pokestop or a Gym?
Download Pokémon Go on your mobile or tablet. Through the game you will be able to see if your church is a PokéStop or a gym.
You might also spot people standing outside the church on their phones who may be playing the game and at your ‘PokéStop’.
What can your church to do get involved?
- Place welcome signs outside: encourage them to come inside and offer them drinks and snacks. The game also uses a lot of battery so why not create a battery charging station? If you’ve got it, let them connect to the church’s wifi
- Speak to players about the game: learn how to play it yourself, it’s a good way to start a conversation that may lead on to other things.
- Hold a Pokeparty like Christ Church Stone https://www.facebook.com/events/246500169067368/
- Tweet about it: Don’t forget to use #PokemonGo
If you are planning to do Pokemon-related promotions, please avoid using the official logo, especially if there may be any perceived commercial gain (e.g. higher coffee sales in the church café). Nintendo get so many requests for usage that their policy is a blanket refusal, so any use of the logo could make you liable for a fine.
Please feel free to contact the communications team should you have any questions.
01483 790345 / firstname.lastname@example.org