Pokémon GO has been available for a couple of days now, and by any measure it’s a runaway success. My only complaint so far is that the game keeps making me walk to weird places, and I’m not the only one.
YouTubers Beware The Flood were driving around looking for a gym — basically the Pokémon equivalent of a boss battle — to test their mettle at, when they realised the in-game map was directing them towards a strip club. Sure, why not! But after turning onto that street it became clear the gym was further down the road, where there happened to be a small graveyard. [Insert joke about ghost Pokémon].
GPS spoofing exists and it’s possible that this short video is a hoax. However, plenty of players have already reported that the game has a strange habit of taking them to church, and the closest gym to my apartment is an Ayurvedic yoga studio. It’s safe to say landmark placement in the game is semi-random. And on a bleaker note, I now know that somewhere in America (most likely this exact location in Allentown, PA) there’s a strip club adjacent to an actual graveyard.
Twitter user Erica H. sent us a screengrab which appears to show that one of the game’s many PokéStops — locations to store monsters and get items — is the pool outside the 9/11 Memorial.
— Erica H. (@bigratsgoboom) July 7, 2016
The locations of gyms and PokéStops are largely culled from Niantic’s earlier game Ingress, where players would try to maintain control of “portals” in real-world landmarks. Lifehacker editor Alan Henry was able to find the Ingress map of the area, which is littered with portals. If the 9/11 Memorial pool really is an in-game location for Pokémon GO, it’s strange of Niantic not to filter out locations like this for a game that is, ostensibly, for children.
As of writing, the Ingress portal for the 9/11 Memorial pool is controlled by a player charmingly named SuperEbola.
Image: Alan Henry
So: What’s the weirdest place Pokémon GO has taken you so far?