Pokemon GO is sending users to a most unexpected place

If you’re one of the millions using the new Pokemon GO app, chances are you’ll end up at church. No, really. Churches around the world have become training places for Pokemon as part of the new Nintendo and Niantic Lab game launched this week. The new app is looking like it’ll have more daily users than Twitter pretty soon and already people are coming to church to battle their creatures.

Twitter screenshot, Pokemon App

If you’ve seen people walking along the streets glued to their phones, or pointing their cameras at you from a distance as if they’re taking a clandestine picture of you, or grouped together in the middle of the pavement cheering at their screens, they’re probably on the hunt for Pokemon creatures (or have just captured one!).

The game is all about catching Pokemon through the app, which superimposes the imaginary creatures into the real world through the phone on your camera. Using the phone’s inbuilt GPS, you can explore your environment and find creatures close to you.

A look at the Pokemon GO app.

A look at the Pokemon GO app. Nintendo, Niantic

They’ll pop up anywhere. I found a Dodrio (that’s a Triple Bird Pokemon – it has three heads) in my bedroom hallway. My next creature, a Charmander (a cute lizard creature with flame for a tail), was on the street as I went looking for gelato on Friday night. It’s like a scavenger hunt.

Once you’ve scoured the streets catching Pokemon, you’ll want to put them to work. Catching is only half the game. The other half is fighting them against each other: a Pokemon battle. And Pokemon battles in GO only happen in “gyms” – usually located in real-world meeting places and ‘points of interest’, that are likely to include your local church.Facebook screenshot from Nathan Campbell - Pokemon GO

Facebook screenshot, South East Bendigo Anglican Church

A gym is a place where you can test your skills at Pokemon battles. You need to be a tad more experienced as a Pokemon trainer to test those skills at the gym. You can take over the gym, too, and defend it as a stronghold. Gym already taken? You’ll need several Pokemon, and possibly the help of a group of other users, to take it over.

One man in the US, who lives in a converted church, found himself accidently the owner of a Pokemon gym.

Twitter screenshot @boonerang

The Independent reports the man had dozens of people outside his door, seeking the game’s rewards for going to the Pokemon gym in real life. He even met the player who ‘owns’ his gym (or, his house).

Twitter screenshot @boonerang

Twitter screenshot @boonerang

Some churches in Australia have already started to make the most of their churches latest designation as a Pokemon Gym:

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 2.51.25 pm

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 2.51.25 pmScreen Shot 2016-07-11 at 2.51.25 pmScreen Shot 2016-07-11 at 2.49.09 pm

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 4.19.12 pm

We’re waiting for people at these churches to start using the app and get into friendly battles with those turning up to try and take it over. Regardless, what a great way to meet your neighbours!


Tell us your experience of Pokemon GO! Have you seen people playing outside churches? Or maybe your church is trying something to meet new people playing the app near you?