An Italian bishop threatens to sue Niantic over ‘diabolical’ Pokémon Go’

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You’ve undoubtedly seen the reports of how Pokémon Go is affecting gamers: sending them stumbling over dead bodies, driving them into lakes, and so on. The game itself even tells players to pay close attention to the real world when they’re out catching pocket monsters with their smartphones and 4G tablets. But that hasn’t stopped all the mishaps stemming from the AR game, which has pushed the bishop of the southern town of Noto in Sicily into threatening to file a lawsuit against Nintendo and Niantic Labs.

Why? To have the game banned, of course. Pokémon Go works by using a device’s built-in camera to project virtual Pokémon onto the camera’s screen, a process known as augmented reality. Because of this, players aren’t ripping their eyes away from the screen when they’re chasing down these virtual monsters, resulting in unintended incidents of the sort mentioned above popping up across the globe. According to the bishop, this game is turning players into the walking dead.

The bishop in question, Antonio Stagliano, has apparently talked to local newspapers as of late about what he considers as a “diabolical” game. According to the various reports, he was quoted saying that Pokémon Go is “a totalitarian system close to Nazism” that has alienated “thousands and thousands of young people” by getting them addicted to hunting down all those little pocket monsters.

This bishop has reportedly already spoken to two lawyer friends about his crusade to ban Niantic’s game. This quest to rid the real world of virtual Pokémon is fueled by the fact that the bishop’s own cathedral church located in Noto is one of the coveted Pokéstops that churn out virtual items such as Pokéballs to players. This isn’t anything new, of course, as Pokémon Go routinely makes use of chuéérches across the globe to dish out virtual items despite the game’s “secular” roots.

News of the bishop’s threatened legal move arrives after Bressolles Mayor Fabrice Beauvois demanded on Tuesday that Niantic remove Pokémon from his village of around 800 residents located just northeast of Lyon France. He declared that Pokémon Go puts pedestrians and drivers at risk because their eyeballs are glued to their screens instead of the sidewalk or road. The game also entices players to form large groups during the night.

“When a cafe or a restaurant owner wants to open a business in any French town, they have an obligation to request prior authorization to the mayor. The rule applies to all people wishing to set up an activity or occupy a space on a public property. So it applies to Niantic as well, even though their settlement is virtual,” Beauvois told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

Beauvois believes that Niantic has turned the entire world into a playground. And while there haven’t been any Pokémon Go-related incidents in his little village, he wants to keep it that way, and many of the local residents seem to agree. However, he’s aware that some players have already discovered Pokémon lurking by the local war memorial.

Since its release in July, the use of Pokémon Go within Israel’s military bases is no longer allowed. Iran bans the use of the game altogether, and Indonesia has reportedly banned the game from its presidential palace.

The developer will likely address the pleas of Beauvois and Stagliano. Niantic gladly moves game stops when requested, such as the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Japan’s Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Actually removing Pokémon from a specific area may also be possible by blocking the GPS coordinates tracked by the Pokémon Go back end. That, of course, is mere speculation, and Niantic has yet to provide a statement regarding the bishop’s possible lawsuit.


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