The problem is that designers of the latest reality craze, Pokemon Go, included the cathedral among the destinations where players of the augmented reality game can find virtual monsters. Players have been traipsing through, interrupting prayer and disturbing the respectful calm of the ancient cathedral.
Now the cathedral, after making several requests of the Pokemon Company to remove their worship space from the Pokestops at which players can find characters, has hired an attorney to force cooperation.
Cologne Cathedral, you may remember, is one of the world’s most beautiful buildings, with a rich history. It was originally constructed in the 12th century to house the relics of the Magi which Emperor Frederick Barbarossa of the Holy Roman Empire had taken from the Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio in Milan, Italy.
Stained glass in the gothic cathedral’s south transept window had been broken during World War II, and had been replaced with plain glass. In 2007, a new, 1,220-square-foot window was installed–the design of acclaimed glass artist Gerhard Richter. The basilica has been named a World Heritage Site.
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Cologne Cathedral isn’t the only site at which Pokemon Go players are unwelcome. There have been complaints worldwide about players causing auto accidents, invading private buildings, and disturbing the peace. The older versions of pokemon, which you can still download from sites like Gamulator, involved exploring a fantasy world and battling imaginary animals. However, in Pokemon Go, it is the real world you explore and some players are clearly finding it hard to separate the fantasy world of pokemon and the dangers of the real one.
Here in the U.S., the Arlington National Cemetery and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Center have already been successfully removed from the game’s Pokestops. And the company is trying to update the app so that real-world locations that don’t wish to be included in the mobile gaming sensation can opt out. According to the Los Angeles Times:
The Pokemon Company’s consumer marketing director J.C. Smith said in an interview this week that they’re updating the augmented-reality game so it remains fun for players but respects the real world.
“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,” said Smith. “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.”
Image of Cologne Cathedral: By original by FJK71 updated by Tetraktys (Own work)