The Holocaust and Pokémon are not words that are often used in the same sentence.
And yet, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C has been forced to delve into the world of computer gaming when it issued a call for visitors to stop playing Pokémon Go there, reported the Washington Post.
“Playing the game is not appropriate in the museum, which is a memorial to the victims of Nazism,” said Andrew Hollinger, communications director for the museum. “We are trying to find out if we can get the museum excluded from the game.”
The “augmented reality” game relies on the phone’s GPS to make different Pokémon characters pop up around users as they run to catch them through real-life streets. Since its launch last week, Pokémon Go has become wildly popular among both players investors and led people to play it everywhere from parks and major landmarks to bathrooms.
The museum is a labelled as a so-called “PokéStop” in the game, meaning a real place where gamers can find and capture virtual characters. It’s unclear whether or how the museum could be excluded from the game since users submit the locations where they capture characters.
As early as Saturday, players were already sharing social media posts about playing the game in the museum.
Trespassing on a Holocaust memorial site to catch a Charmander #PokemonGO— Duke Heresy (@DukeOfHeresy) July 9, 2016
The Holocaust Memorial by my house is lit… let’s go catch some Pokémon! #PokemonGOpic.twitter.com/jmvIHQA8Ky— Damian Estrada (@DamianEstrada) July 10, 2016
Caught this one at the Holocaust Museum today. #PokemonGOpic.twitter.com/O9DvNhbPQ7— Logan H. (@Over41Swags) July 11, 2016
Hollinger said the Holocaust Museum is definitely not the right place to ‘catch them all,’ in Pokémon parlance. He said the museum is enthusiastic about incorporating technology into its displays, but playing the game was disrespectful and “falls very much outside that.”
Still, it doesn’t look as though the trend of people chasing after Pokémon Go in inappropriate places will end any time soon: gamers are playing it anywhere from Auschwitz concentration camp to the World War II Memorial and Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York. A Reddit thread even discusses which synagogues have the best PokéStops.
Contact Veronika Bondarenko at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @veronikabond.