NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Pokemon Go: Concern in Aberdeen at 'sensitive' locations

Pokemon Go game at Piper Alpha Memorial in Aberdeen

The popular Pokemon Go game has virtual characters appearing at a memorial in Aberdeen to the Piper Alpha disaster, BBC Scotland has learned.

The smartphone game has become a global phenomenon since its July release.

Using GPS, players walk around the real world catching virtual monsters.

A group which maintains the memorial has criticised the site being used and wants the location removed. A total of 167 men died in 1988 when explosions ripped through the Piper Alpha rig.

The memorial statue and garden is in Aberdeen's Hazlehead Park.

Gus Munro, from the Pound for Piper campaign, told BBC Scotland: "I am very disappointed to hear of this, for the families and friends of the families.

"This is a place of reflection.

"The last thing they want is hoards of people looking for these characters."

He said concerns would be raised with Aberdeen City Council.

'Cross boundaries'

Hazlehead councillor Martin Greig said: "It's important not to cross boundaries by getting confused between the digital world and the real world.

"This is a special place where people come to remember and to reflect.

"It does not deserve to be used for an entertainment game."

A nearby memorial garden for babies is also used as a Pokemon Go location.

The app is an augmented reality game on smartphones which has millions of people worldwide obsessively capturing small creatures in public spaces.

Banned game

It works by showing the user a picture of their real surroundings as caught by the phone's camera, then superimposes virtual characters with players catching monsters in physical places designated "Pokestops" and training them in "gyms".

Unlike most smartphone games, it requires players to walk around in their hunt, leading to official requests around the world for people to be kept away from locations for safety or sensitivity reasons.

A number of locations, such as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Japan, have asked to be removed from Pokemon Go.

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum has asked people not to play Pokemon Go on their phones during their visit.

The former concentration camp at Auschwitz, where millions of people were murdered by the Nazis, has also banned the game.

Niantic Labs is the software company behind the game.

The monsters in it were first popular in the 1990s when they started on the Nintendo Game Boy.

Back then, trading cards were a huge hit and the new game builds on that.

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