Education

Pokemon Go brings the past to life as players stumble onto historical markers

Posted August 18

Players of Pokemon Go come for the fantasy monsters but some stay for the factual perspective. (Deseret Photo)

Pokemon Go players are stumbling onto history, the Associated Press reports, as players make their way to historical markers looking for Pokemon paraphernalia, but many end up discovering a world of history around them they had never considered.

Gaming blogger Mike Fahey at Kotaku writes that he is discovering his own town of Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he moved in his 30s. One of his recent Pokemon Go discoveries was a historical marker about local Indian tribes.

"Despite it being located tripping distance from a playground my children frequent, I’d never noticed this sign," he writes. "It talks about the Creek and Cherokee, Native American tribes formed after European explorers arrived and decimated a thriving society with fresh disease."

"That I learned this by reading a sign I’d overlooked until a Pokémon video game on my cellphone brought it to my attention is pretty embarrassing. That a video game could urge me to learn more about a completely unrelated and infinitely more important subject than Pocket Monsters is inspiring."

The operator of one Virginia-based historical marker website says traffic to his website has quadrupled since the game began.

"The game has delighted Anthony Golding, a middle-school history teacher in Tupelo, Mississippi, who is looking forward to incorporating Pokestops into his curriculum in the fall," according to the AP.

Golding "has replenished his Pokemon wares where the Civil War's Battle of Tupelo was fought, at monuments to civil rights movement figures, and at a pedestal that holds the Tupelo Meteorite. But Elvis Presley holds the monopoly on Tupelo's Pokestops, from his birthplace to the Main Street store where he got his first guitar."

But there are limits, and the operators of some historical sites object to the Pokemon-ification of their domains. Earlier this month the National Holocaust Museum issued a statement asking patrons not to use their phones to play the game while visiting the site.

"Playing the game is not appropriate in the museum, which is a memorial to the victims of Nazism," Andrew Hollinger, the museum's communications director, told The Washington Post. "We are trying to find out if we can get the museum excluded from the game."

Email: eschulzke@deseretnews.com

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