Pokémon Go. Players gonna play.

Your church is most likely some kind of landmark in the world of Niantic’s hugely popular augmented reality game, Pokémon Go, which means you may occasionally find people you’ve never seen at church before gathering nearby. Perhaps that feels weird and awkward, and it probably is, but before we get overly concerned and take any drastic action let’s address some questions:

Will Pokémon players trespass and cause trouble?

While most churches are Pokéstops and Pokégyms in the game of Pokémon Go, a number of players report feeling uncomfortable about venturing near churches in the first place, let alone going inside or onto the church grounds. So, players may have some trepidation about venturing near or even into church property, which is quite sad really in the context of the Church’s mission.

When players open their game app it gives warnings about player behaviour, one of those warnings is that they are not to trespass onto private property or break the law. Sure, this statement may be there more to protect Niantic than the player, and for sure there may be the occasional recalcitrant individual, but for the most part, players are solely interested in the game and there are no game incentives for them to cause trouble or do anything illegal. In fact, the general narrative of the Pokémon Go website and game app is “don’t worry, there’ll be more [Pokémon] just around the corner” so players should understand that they don’t have to take unnecessary risks to enjoy the game.

Do we need to be worried about Pokémon Go players in or near church-owned property?

To date, our office has not heard of, or received any incident reports that any Adventist Churches in the South Pacific have been overrun by Pokémon Go players.

However, Adventist Risk Management (ARM), our counter-parts in the USA, have received inquiries regarding virtual reality gamers trespassing on church-owned property, so it is not unheard of. ARM have published a short article on what to do about trespasses here

What should I do about Pokémon Go players at my church?

Connect with members of your church who play Pokémon Go and ask them how alluring your property is to players? It may be evident that there is not much to worry about at your site. However, do ensure the safety of all children on your site – both regulars and visitors – and be vigilant in ensuring property is locked and secured at night.

If your church is host to a wedding or funeral and you notice players nearby, warmly greet them and just let them know what’s happening at the church that day.

While there appears to be no real threat to church-goers or church property in our Division at this time, technology and gaming moves at lightning speed and risks may arise in the future, so keep up-to-date and informed.

If you have any questions or concerns about your site please get in touch with RMS.

Image credit: Mikhail_Kayl / Shutterstock.com