Update: Pokémon Go To Address Problem With Memorial Sites

Photo: Aflo/REX/Shutterstock.
Update: The creators of Pokémon Go are heeding requests to remove certain locations, like memorials to tragedies, from the game, a representative told The Associated Press on Friday.

“We’re looking at features in the game and how to fine-tune them so that it's appealing to the fans but also respectful of the private institutions that are affected by it,“ J.C. Smith, the Pokemon Company's consumer marketing director, told the news agency in an interview. He said that designers have fine-tuned kinks in playability and now, they’re focusing on how the game interfaces with the nuances of the real world.
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Various locations devoted to remembrance of tragedies and mass deaths, such as the Hiroshima Memorial and 9/11 Memorial, have been overrun with players looking for Pokémon since the game’s release. The sites have asked to be removed from the game.

"When something is really popular, we have to figure out the most respectful way to deal with it and make sure that everyone is playing safely and doing things in a respectful manor," Smith said, noting that the game has only been public for a few weeks. “It's tough to think of all the ways it could affect the world."

He couldn’t say when further changes would be coming to the game, but at least one location has been removed from the game for sensitivity reasons. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum told the AP via a spokesperson that the company had honored its request to be removed from the game.

This story was originally published on July 28, 2016.

A reminder to Pokémon Go fans — no matter how tempting that Zapdos is, there are some places where a Pokémon hunt just isn’t appropriate.

Japan’s city of Hiroshima is the latest place to ask developers of the Pokémon Go app to remove the virtual monsters from their location, according to the BBC. The city’s memorial to victims of the atomic bomb reportedly has 30 Poké Stops and several gyms. Officials told Japanese broadcaster NHK that “hordes of players” had been visiting the park to find Pokémon since the game’s Japanese launch on Friday, disrupting the quiet atmosphere and making it difficult for visitors to memorialize those lost.

More than 100,000 people were killed in Hiroshima with the dropping of the first atomic bomb in 1945. Officials have asked that the Pokémon be gone by the anniversary of the bombing on August 6.

Hiroshima is only the latest in a string of memorial sites to plead with visitors to leave their Poké Balls at home. Poland’s Auschwitz memorial to victims of the Holocaust has also asked to be removed from the game, and New York City’s Sept. 11 memorial contained several Poké Stops before they abruptly disappeared earlier this week, according to Fortune.

The game’s developer, Niantic, accepts requests for locations to be removed from the app, but does not automatically grant them.
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