Pokemon Go players face backlash from authorities, sacred sites

By Nick Whigham

The Pokemon Go craze is leaving many disgruntled in its path, with some institutions banning the smartphone game  from their premises. Photo / AP
The Pokemon Go craze is leaving many disgruntled in its path, with some institutions banning the smartphone game from their premises. Photo / AP

The world is awash with Pokemon Go mania - but not everyone is happy about it.

If you're one of the few people still unaware of the craze, Pokemon Go is a smartphone-based augmented reality game in which players are required to visit "PokeStops" and "PokeGyms" dotted around public spaces to collect valuable items and battle other opponents.

But as players frantically run around town participating in the Nintendo-created frenzy, they're leaving some disgruntled folk in their path.

Players were reportedly moved on from an Australian park by NSW police overnight after calls from angry residents about noise levels and rubbish left behind by the group.

Peg Patterson Park in the waterside suburb of Rhodes in Sydney has attracted a large number of players over the past couple of nights due to the fact that three PokeStops intersect at the location.

A photo posted to the Pokemon Go Sydney Facebook page on Monday night showed a huge crowd of players who had descended upon the location.

According to one Facebook user, the crowd was even pelted with water bombs on Tuesday night by residents in apartments surrounding the park in what he labelled as "backlash" from locals.

A Rhodes resident told Fairfax Media that there was "complete chaos" in the park due to the Pokemon crowd.

Crowds gather to hunt Pokemon in Rhodes, Sydney.  Photo / Facebook
Crowds gather to hunt Pokemon in Rhodes, Sydney. Photo / Facebook

NSW authorities are wary of the growing number of players and yesterday sought to pre-empt those participating in the game from entering the courts to look for Pokemon characters.

A Facebook post uploaded yesterday by the NSW Department of Justice warned the public not to enter the courts while playing the game.

Pikachu is not welcome in NSW courts. Photo / Facebook
Pikachu is not welcome in NSW courts. Photo / Facebook

"Attention budding Pokemon trainers: you do not need to step inside a courthouse to find Pokemon," the post reads.

"A reminder that the use of recording devices in NSW Courts is prohibited ... and carries a $22,000 fine or imprisonment for 12 months (or both). Stay safe and catch 'em all!"

Earlier in the week, NSW police tweeted a message telling players to be safe and warning people not to stray on to roads.

A Victorian man who claimed to be involved with testing the Pokemon Go app told 3AW this morning that the game had taken an inappropriate turn.

Identified only as John, he told Melbourne radio host Neil Mitchell that players had been spotted laughing and looking for Pokemon in cemeteries at Dandenong, Kew and St Kilda.

"To be honest, I find it disgraceful," he said. "They're in a place where people are reflecting for their loved ones, it's not an area to play with."

In New Zealand ACC issued a tongue-in-cheek warning about the craze.
"As Pokemania sweeps across the country, so does the likelihood of injury.

"Whilst minor injuries have already been reported overseas, ACC is yet to receive any Zubat, Pikachu or other Pokemon-related claims - and we don't want you to be the first."

The ACC statement follows an official warning released by police, who asked players to watch out for "real-world hazards" while using their phones to hunt Pokemon out in the community.

"Never use your phone while driving, don't step into the road without looking and watch out for others."

Meanwhile, local councils are getting in on the act, with the Matamata-Piako District Council posting a mock warning to locals.

"Animal Control [has] been inundated with reports of rare Pokemon in our parks and reserves," the post reads. "But all we found were teenage zombies."

Sensitive sites such a memorials and museums have also been caught in the crosshairs as the desire to capture Pikachu knows no bounds, leaving some miffed at the insensitivity of players in certain situations.

The Holocaust Museum in Washington DC is one of those places.

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington has asked smartphone users to refrain from "catching" Pokemon inside the museum.   Photo / AP
The US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington has asked smartphone users to refrain from "catching" Pokemon inside the museum. Photo / AP

The museum is one of many real-world landmarks that is designated as a Pokestop within the game where people can collect free in-game items.

As you might expect, museum administrators aren't stoked about the huge influx of highly animated, smartphone-wielding gamers.

"Playing the game is not appropriate in the museum, which is a memorial to the victims of Nazism," Andrew Hollinger, the museum's communications director told The Washington Post.

"We are trying to find out if we can get the museum excluded from the game."

Another very sensitive landmark in the country which has been swallowed by "Pokemon Trainers" is the 9/11 memorial in downtown Manhattan.

The Koffing Pokemon, a levitating purple monster with a skull and crossbones on its belly, appeared next to the reflecting pool at the memorial Tuesday - right next to the thousands of names of first responders who lost their lives in the attack, reported the New York Post.

Some of those who were there to pay their respects were reportedly a little unnerved by Pokemon players inundating the site.

"It's disrespectful to the people who lost families. Playing a game is one thing, but they shouldn't do it here. This is like a sacred place," said a 61-year-old Staten Island labourer who helped clean up Ground Zero.

They're certainly not the only dubious locations to feature in the game.
One PokeStop site in New Zealand was luring gamers to the Hells Angels headquarters for the Whanganui chapter.

While in Sydney, a PokeStop is located on Kellet St in Kings Cross, which is the back entrance to a methadone clinic.

Some players, though, found the backlash amusing.





Nintendo is behind the game which uses a maps application with a gaming layer.
The game's producer Niantic Labs - which specialises in location-based gaming - was responsible for another augmented-reality mobile app called Ingress, and the same maps system featured in that game is used for the Pokemon application.

Currently, there is no option for the public to remove landmarks as PokeStops or PokeGyms in the game.

But with the craze showing no signs of slowing down, Nintendo might need to make a couple of tweaks if the world is to peacefully co-exist with this new wave of Pokemon trainers.

- Additional reporting by NZ Herald

- news.com.au

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