Monday 23 April 2018

Pokemon Go being revised after complaints over sensitive locations

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is among the sites to be targeted by Pokemon hunters (AP)
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is among the sites to be targeted by Pokemon hunters (AP)

The creators of Pokemon Go say they are working to remove real-world locations that do not wish to be included in the mobile gaming sensation after a series of complaints about the use of sensitive sites.

The Pokemon Company's consumer marketing director JC Smith said the firm is updating the augmented-reality game so it remains fun for players but respects the real world.

The location-aware game provides virtual rewards for players who visit real sites designated as "Pokestops".

Several locations, such as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Japan and Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC, have asked to be removed from Pokemon Go.

Mr Smith could not say when any updates will be live. Pokemon Go developer Niantic offers an online form to request exclusions, but changes to the game are not automatic.

Mr Smith said: "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 manner.

"It's only been two weeks since it launched, and there's been so much attention and so many people playing that it's tough to think of all the ways it could affect the world."

Since the free game launched on July 6 for mobile devices and rocketed to the top of the download charts, some players have injured themselves in pursuit of virtual monsters or have been distracted while playing while driving.

"For us, we're making sure the play experience is done right," said Mr Smith. "Initially, there was some server overload, which we've worked on. Now, 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."

For some sensitive locations, change has already come to Pokemon Go. US Holocaust Memorial Museum spokesman Andrew Hollinger said the museum had been removed from the game per its wishes.

Despite the monumental success of Pokemon Go, Mr Smith said the mobile game's triumph is not affecting how the Pokemon Company is approaching future projects based on the 20-year-old franchise, such as a live-action film to be produced by Legendary Entertainment, or the upcoming Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon games for the Nintendo 3DS.


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