Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Pokemon Debate

You can capture Pokemon anywhere, even on the MTR...
There are so many Pokemon Go stories in Hong Kong these days, with the tram being inundated with riders keen on catching as many monsters as they can on their way home, or on the weekends they gather with friends, or how people discover new places in their neighbourhood they never knew about before.

But now there's a new debate brewing among Christians in Hong Kong -- is the game satanic, addictive or conducive to spreading the gospel.

After the game was launched in the city on July 25, an anonymous message circulated around social media, asking Protestants to pray for those who was addicted to the augmented reality game.

The tram is the best way to catch Pokemon safely + efficiently
It said Pokemon images were partly inspired by figurines in Japanese shrines, and suggested "the game would guide people to play with evil spirits".

"There are Christians talking about not playing the game... and I agree that you can choose not to play it to avoid getting addicted," said Reverend Sam Chung Shu-sum, senior pastor at Assemblies of God West Post Church.

"But while new [trends] are always attractive or even potentially addictive, Christians could also make good use of them."

Last month Chung had written on his blog questioning whether Christians with weak wills might find the game addictive.

However Alliance Bible Seminary assistant professor John Chan suggested on Facebook that churches could have "lures" to attract rare Pokemon, and that might attract some potential church-goers.

Hundreds of Pokemon hunters gather in Tin Shui Wai
While the game is about catching monsters, how is the game satanic in any way? It's just a game! There are many people addicted to it at the moment, and the trend could fizzle as fast as it came, as it's virtually impossible to catch all the Pokemon, unless you're like American Nick Johnson who has literally traveled around the world to catch practically every single one, even the regional creatures.

Although I'm not religious, I like Chan's suggestion that Pokemon Go could result in more people going to church. It's just a matter of getting them through the door, right?

The game is a time waster -- there's no doubt about that. But some people admit to walking their dogs longer than usual or even meeting new friends to catch Pokemon. That's a good thing too, right?

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