Surprise! Chernobyl Is Now a Pokemon GO! Stop

by Robert Workman

Pokemon

We’ve seen our fair share of weird Pokestops in Pokémon GO!, but the latest one found by travel writer Darmon Richter easily takes the place. Who’d have thought that you could make a Pokestop out of a former nuclear site?

Not just any nuclear site, mind you – Chernobyl. Yep, the author noted that he turned the facility into an unlikely place to find Pokémon. (But not Missingno, weirdly enough.)

“I was already booked to lead a photography tour into Chernobyl in September, so I downloaded the app and decided to go and investigate,” said Richter, speaking with the New York Post.

“The radiation levels are high enough that you wouldn’t want to live there, but for an overnight trip, it’s safe enough. We just had to keep an eye on the radiation meter and avoid any hot spot,” he noted.

Even though GPS signal was tricky to find at times, Richter succeeded in making the Pokestop happen – and that wasn’t his only stop, as he also hit up the Kiev Crematorium, the Buzludzha Memorial Complex and the Park-Monument to the Bulgarian-Soviet Friendship, setting up a Pokestop in each area.

“The game’s system of world-building had the effect of stripping away politics from what included some highly contested sites,” Richter wrote in a blog post on The Bohemian Blog. “It broke taboos, and valued objects of communist heritage with equal weight to more conventional attractions. If this is the start of a new trend in gaming – if future generations are to grow up experiencing the world through similar platforms – then it hints at a growing cultural shift towards the depoliticization of 20th century ideological architecture, even in countries where that history is still now a subject of division.

“There were times, however, when this separation of place and meaning proved problematic. While political art may be open to debate and interpretation, concentration camps are now. There are some places where it’s just not okay to play games. Including these sites in the game by default then doesn’t feel particularly appropriate.”

It’s a great read for fans of the game, especially those wondering, “Nah, Chernobyl can’t be a ‘hot zone’ for Pokémon…can it?!”

By Robert Workman

Robert Workman has spent years working in the video game industry, for sites like Shacknews, AOL GameDaily and Marooners Rock. He's also very skilled in contributing to podcasts and video broadcasts, and can pretty much out-game you under the table. Oh, and just go ahead and ask him about glorious craft beers. Go on, ask him.