Entertainment

From the White House to the Westboro Baptist Church, 5 unusual Pokemon Go hotspots

With millions of budding Pokemon trainers leaving their homes to search for pocket monsters in the real world, some have found their homes or business the unexpected centre of attention.

Playing Pokemon Go in the Holocaust Museum called 'extremely inappropriate'

Toronto's David Pecaut Square is far from the strangest place aspiring Pokemon trainers have been seen looking for monsters in the wild. (Bruce Reeve/CBC)

With millions of gamers leaving their homes to search for cartoon monsters in the real world, some have found their homes or businesses the unexpected centre of attention.

They're playing Pokemon Go, the latest game in Nintendo's long-running series where players catch colourful creatures called Pokemon and train them to spar with other players. Go lets players hunt for monsters in the wild thanks to GPS location data and augmented reality displays on their smartphones.

Players will spend much of their time at Pokestops — gathering spots where it's easy to find and catch Pokemon — and gyms, where players can train their Pokemon by sparring with monsters caught by other players.

The locations for Pokestops and gyms were largely pulled from Niantic's last augmented reality game, Ingress. Niantic founder and CEO John Hanke explained to Mashable that historical landmarks were popular choices for Ingress, and players later crowdsourced suggestions for other hot spots to be added.

Here are some unexpected consequences of being marked as a hot spot for monster hunters.

Boston man's home marked as a gym

Churches are often tagged as gyms in Pokemon Go. Coincidentally, Boston man Boon Sheridan and his family recently moved into a home that was built as a church in the 1800s, but is no longer a public place of worship.

When Sheridan downloaded the app like millions of others in the U.S., he was surprised to realize that his home was an in-game gym. He's since seen groups of trainers hanging outside his home, pointing their phones at his house looking for Pokemon.

Latest version of franchise turns Boon Sheridan's house into a gym, where Pokemon characters train to become more powerful 5:05

"I went to bed [on Friday night] and when I woke up on Saturday morning, I was looking out my kitchen window and realizing there were people hanging out in front of my house," Sheridan told CBC News on Monday.

"Thankfully I had been playing the game, so I could put two and two together fairly quickly."

Westboro Baptist Church

Another church serving as a virtual gym is the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas. Last week a Clefairy, a "fairy" type Pokemon, named with the nickname "LoveisLove," was the champion of the gym based on the location well known for its controversial, anti-LGBT publicity stunts.

The Westboro Baptist Church chose to fight back, calling the Clefairy a "sodomite" on its Twitter page and making a short Vine featuring Jigglypuff, another pink puffball, as a new mascot.

White House, Pentagon

It's probably no surprise that the White House qualified as a gym. A user on Reddit noticed that a Blastoise was listed as the current champion shortly after launch.

It's since been taken over by a trainer with an eagle-like Pidgeot, nicknamed "Murica" and later "Thanks Obama."

Users also found a gym at the Pentagon, and joked how appropriate the Pokemon was currently guarding it: a pudgy, sleeping Snorlax.

Holocaust Museum

The Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., didn't take kindly to being marked as a place to catch Pokemon.

"Playing Pokemon Go in a memorial dedicated to the victims of Nazism is extremely inappropriate," the museum's director of communications Andrew Hollinger said in a release, adding that they are "attempting to have the museum removed from the game."

An image in a report by the Washington Post shows a screenshot of the game being played in the museum's lobby, catching a bird-like Pokemon called Doduo. 

Hollinger continued, saying the museum normally encourages people to use their phones and "engage with the museum content while here," but searching for Pokemon "falls far outside of our educational and memorial mission."

Police station in Australia

Officers working at a police station in Darwin, Australia, probably don't want a swarm of kids looking for Pokemon during all hours of the day, but they took the increased attention as an opportunity to promote neighbourhood safety.

"For those budding Pokemon Trainers out there using Pokemon Go — whilst the Darwin Police Station may feature as a Pokestop, please be advised that you don't actually have to step inside in order to gain the Pokeballs," wrote the police department on its Facebook page.

"It's also a good idea to look up, away from your phone and both ways before crossing the street. That Sandshrew isn't going anywhere fast."

The post has since been shared more than 6,600 times with more than 23,000 likes.