A local councillor and historian has said that the Pokémon Go phenomenon is being disrespectful to important monuments in Cork that pay tribute to the dead, writes Kevin O'Neill of the Evening Echo.
The wildly popular Pokémon Go phone app has attracted thousands of Cork fans and millions worldwide, but concerns have been raised about the game’s use of real-world locations as players are encouraged to flock to monuments and memorials in order to capture Pokémon and restock items.
These include the Tomás Mac Curtain monument on Great William O’Brien Street in Blackpool and the Kerry Pike memorial which pays tribute to six men killed in an ambush at a farm in Ballycannon in 1921.
Cork City councillor and historian Kieran McCarthy said that incorporating such locations into the game is ‘not appropriate’ given their historical importance.
The Independent councillor said: “I don’t think it is appropriate. It isn’t exactly showing respect. There is quite a bit of tragedy surrounding these two monuments and having these colourful creatures on your phone is not appropriate.”
Players of the game use their phone’s camera, mapping and GPS services to capture Pokémon characters in real-world locations. The app also uses these locations as ‘Pokéstops’ — places where players can top-up the free items they need to play the game.
Hundreds of these Pokéstops can be found throughout the city, including at a number of historical monuments.
Mr McCarthy said, though, that the developers may be able to make good use of the services in later versions of the game if information about the sites was included.
“I am aware that this is version 1.0 of the game, though, and if the developers can incorporate some sort of interaction and information in later versions, I can certainly see a potential benefit, especially in tourist areas like the Wild Atlantic Way, for children.”
Similar concerns have been raised all over the world, with the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Pentagon, and the 9/11 Memorial among the controversial locations of Pokéstops.
Game developer, Niantic Labs, has been encouraged to remove such locations, as a mark of respect.
The issue has emerged because Pokémon Go was built on a previous title named ‘Ingress.’, also by the same developer.
That 2013 game encouraged players to ‘capture’ landmarks and memorials by using their phone’s GPS.
Pokémon Go has been a huge success globally, with more than ten million downloads, in 30 countries, in recent weeks.
* This article first appeared in today’s Evening Echo.