UPDATE: Mom Jenny Latimer told CBC on Monday that Pokemon Go creator Niantic will remove the Pokestop from her son’s memorial. The company is now updating the game so “it remains fun for players but respects the real world.”
A Nanaimo, B.C., mother has deemed the new Pokemon Go video game “disrespectful” after it turned her two-year-old son’s memorial into a “PokeStop,” which is a place where players can collect items.
Jenny Latimer’s son Kevin tragically died in 2004 after he fell from his father’s apartment window during a court-ordered visit. A memorial was then set up for the toddler at St. Luke's Anglican Church in Burlington, Ont., the city where Latimer previously lived.
Latimer’s family first became aware of the PokeStop on Sunday after the mom’s cousin, Allen Harrington, drove by the toddler’s memorial. Harrington was on his way to his grandmother’s home when he noticed the site pop up in Pokemon Go.
However, the B.C. mom didn’t find out about the PokeStop until Monday.
“Someone sent me a photo,” she told The Hamilton Spectator. “When I saw it, I just started to cry.”
In Pokemon Go, a photo of the plaque at Kevin’s memorial shows up on the game screen. The plaque reads: “In loving memory my courageous little angel. May your love and strength shine through to us forever.”
“It’s very hurtful to know that something that I want to have there as a positive memory is in my eyes being vandalized virtually,” Latimer told Global News. “It’s very disrespectful. The memorial is on sacred ground, it is at a church and it’s a very inappropriate place for people to be playing video games.”
Since the game launched in Canada, Stewart Pike, rector of St. Luke's Church, told Global that he’s noticed people wandering around the grounds “with their iPhones out.”
Pokemon Go turns landmarks into PokeStops, which is why Kevin Latimer’s memorial likely became one.
The Hamilton Spectator notes that the site is also of “provincial significance,” since the story of Kevin’s death led the Ontario government to pass Kevin and Jared's Law in 2006. This law makes a coroner's inquest compulsory whenever a child dies during a court-ordered visit with a parent.
While Latimer and her family are deeply upset about the memorial site’s treatment in Pokemon Go, the mom’s cousin Harrington says there is an upside.
“It is kind of nifty in that it’s probably one of the biggest games ever that has been launched, and from there it’s kind of neat how he’s being immortalized in the game,” he told Global.
Kevin Latimer’s memorial isn’t the only monument to be included in Pokemon Go. On Twitter, many have had mixed reactions to seeing personal memorials included in the game.
Players' reactions ranged from upset…
To very enthusiastic.
Latimer is eagerly awaiting a response from Niantic about the PokeStop's removal from her son’s memorial site.
“As much as some people think it’s funny and it’s games, I wouldn’t want my son’s grave or the memorial to be in a picture with a Pokemon,” she said.
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