Launched in the 1990’s Pokémon TV show and computer game soon became a firm favourite of children and teenagers. Last Thursday a new version of the game was launched in the UK and is set to become this years summer craze.The reality game – which is attracting millions of new players – involves finding virtual Pokemon characters in different real locations, by using a FREE APP on your mobile phone or tablet.
The whole of Bristol city centre is bristling with PokeStop’s including several churches. A Pokestop is a location where players have to visit to get certain items they need to play the game. Church locations which have been been registered on the game as Pokestops include Bristol “New Room”, Bristol Cathedral, FaithSpace, and City Road Methodist Church in Birmingham. St Mary Redcliffe is a Gym..
The Church of England according to the BBC has said the game was “a good way to start a conversation that may lead on to other things”.
The Church of England has issued guidance to churches around the country, encouraging them to attract players into their local churches.Their media officer said, “You might also spot people standing outside the church on their phones who may be playing the game and at your ‘PokeStop’.” Church communities have been encouraged to place welcome signs outside, hold so-called “Pokeparties” for players.
The NSPCC has issued advice to parents of those children playing Pokémon GO in the UK. Whilst we would encourage churches to engage with those playing the game, be they adults or children, we also understand the concerns that the NSPCC have raised with regards to keeping children safe. Our first priority as a church should be to provide a safe place for children and vulnerable adults with regards to Pokémon GO.
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/
If you have any concerns in relation to those playing Pokémon GO, please talk to your local church Safeguarding Officer.
First of all, what is Pokémon GO?
Pokémon GO is a free mobile and tablet app game which lets players find Pokémon (Animated creatures, 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.
Why does your church need to know?
Your church might already 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 the FREE APP 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.
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:Christchurch Stone https://www.facebook.com/events/24
- Tweet about it: Don’t forget to use #PokemonGo
City Road Methodist Church in Birmingham has signed up to becomeone of the real-life locations used as “gyms” in Pokemon Go, where users can train virtual monsters. – It has put up a sign saying: “Jesus Cares About Pokemon Gamers”.
Based on the blog produced by: Church of England Communications: