US Holocaust Museum Appalled That ‘Pokemon Go’ Players Finding Virtual Creatures on Somber Premises
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is appalled that the popular smartphone game “Pokemon Go” is bringing app users to its building.
“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.”
Hollinger said he thinks playing the game on the premises is disrespectful, especially in some of the more somber areas, such as the Hall of Remembrance.
The museum in Washington, D.C., hosts three “PokeStops” within the game, where players can obtain free items to help them catch the Pokemon characters. One image posted online appears to show a player spotting a poison gas Pokemon, called Koffing, inside the museum next to a sign for its Helena Rubinstein Auditorium, which was dedicated to memorializing the Jews killed in gas chambers.
Niantic Labs, the developers that launched Pokemon Go last week, did not respond to questions from the Washington Post about the possible Koffing sighting or the Holocaust Museum’s request to remove its location from the game.
Hollinger said the museum is concerned about the potential Koffing appearance in its building. He said the Holocaust Museum usually encourages visitors to use technology in order to share their experiences with the exhibits, but, “This game falls very much outside that.”
Since launching last week, Pokemon Go has taken the world by storm, with players searching almost everywhere for digital critters. One player in New York posted images online showing that he had found Pokemon creatures near the 9/11 Memorial and the Museum of Jewish Heritage, A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. In Israel, Pokemon creatures have been spotted in the Knesset and elsewhere in Jerusalem, as well as in other cities and over mountains of the Jewish state.
Pokemon Go requires players to use their smartphones to “catch” as many Pokemon creatures as possible. The phone’s camera and GPS system point out potential targets, battle gyms and PokeStops in the real world. Different and more types of Pokemons appear, depending on the location of the player and time of day.