One week ago, a game called Pokemon Go was launched, and over the last seven days it has become an international phenomenon. It is the first mass market video game to successfully blend the real world and the digital world together in a way that the public truly embraces, and it is making headlines all over the planet. At this point it has almost as many daily active users as Twitter does, and Nintendo's stock price is going crazy as a result. On Monday it shot up 25 percent, and on Tuesday it surged another 13 percent. In other words, Nintendo is now worth billions of dollars more than it used to be. But is there a dark side to Pokemon Go? Is it potentially evil, dangerous or demonic?
Many people would dismiss such questions as complete nonsense. Unlike most video games, Pokemon Go actually requires people to leave their homes, get some exercise and visit real places. This type of game is being called "augmented reality," and it is bringing people together in new and interesting ways. In fact, the Washington Post is reporting that a lot of people are actually ending up in church as they hunt Pokemon creatures.
But not everything is unicorns and lollipops with this new game. Over the past week, we have seen people commit robberies at Pokemon Go locations, and there are very serious data security concerns. The following comes from Ricky Scaparo...
New reports are now coming in of the practical dangers of this game such as a recent report out of Baltimore where multiple people were robbed playing the "Pokemon Go" game last week, according to the Baltimore County Police Department. And then there is personal security concerns that have surfaced as a new report indicated that players that have logged into the game using their Google account may have given the app permission to go through all of their Google data, including emails and website history.
But much more alarming to many is the content of the game itself. As Mena Lee Grebin has pointed out, "Pokemon" actually comes from two Japanese words that mean "Pocket Monster"...
Meaning of the word Pokémon: a contraction of two Japanese words, "Poketto" and "Monsut," meaning "Pocket Monster"
Definition of Monster: a creature that is typically large, ugly, and frightening. Synonyms – rascal, beast, demon, brute, imp, devil.
Even the Washington Post admits that there are creatures such as "a flaming demon" in Pokemon Go. As players progress through the game, they collect these monsters and demons, train them, and have them fight against Pokemon owned by others. Here is more from Ricky Scaparo...
The Pokemon are supposed to be "monsters" that have special powers and share the world with humans. The idea of the game is to have the children learn how to collect as many Pokemon as possible, train them, and use them against other people's Pokemon by invoking the various abilities of each Pokemon creature. Pokemon can evolve and pass through various levels, 100 being the highest. Colored energy cards are sometimes used to aid the Pokemon.
But "it's just a game" right?
Everything that we do, whether it is a "game" or not, trains us or conditions us in various ways. Often seeing something in a movie or coming across something in a video game can spark an interest or open a door into something deeper. For instance, occult organizations admit that one of their best recruiting tools is Harry Potter. After reading the books or watching the movies, many have found themselves curious about the occult world.
Realizing that, just consider some of the things that go on in the world of Pokemon. The following comes from the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry...
Is Pokemon dangerous? Potentially, yes it is. It conditions the child who plays the game into accepting occult and evolutionary principles. Haunter can hypnotize, eat a person's dreams and drain their energy. Abra reads minds. Kadabra emits negative energy that harms others. Gastly induces sleep. Gengar laughs at peoples' fright. Nidoran uses poison. The psychic type of Pokemon are among the strongest in the game. Charmander, Haunter, Ivysaur, Kadabra and many more evolve. The children are taught to use these creatures to do their will by invoking colored energy cards, fights and commands. Much of it is reminiscent of occult and eastern mysticism.
But it goes even farther than that. According to occult expert Bill Schnoebelen, Pokemon players engage in all sorts of activities that would be considered deeply occult if they were done in real life...
Like many video games, Pokémon is riddled with occult concepts. Concepts like "magical stones," teleportation, ghosts, all-seeing eye, psychic power and using spirits to achieve results in the real world are all givens in this game realm. All of this is contrary to scripture. The Pokémon games and comics, etc., teach what I have called a magic worldview that is completely opposed to the Bible.
The Magic Worldview is the idea, common to all occult belief systems, that there is not really any sovereign Deity over creation. Instead, creation is ruled by a series of occult laws. In a sense, the universe is like a cosmic vending machine. As long as you put in the right coin (ritual or spell) you automatically achieve the desired result.
Particularly disturbing is the concept that children are being trained to "capture" demon-like creatures, train and control them, and use them against others. Many believe this very closely mirrors what many high-level occultists attempt to do with real demons. Here is more from Bill Schnoebelen...
The magician works from within a specially prepared magic circle which supposedly protects him from the demon as long as he stays inside it. He uses special magical weapons like a wand, staff or sword to threaten the demon and make it do his or her bidding. Once the ritual is successful, supposedly the demon belongs to the magician to do his or her bidding—as long as the stipulations of their contract are kept by sorcerer. Often the demon will grant the magician occult powers or give him or her special talismans to control others. This is a large part of high magic.
Now, there is barely a dime's worth of difference between this and what goes on in the "make-believe" Pokémon universe!
As the Pokemon Go craze continues to sweep the nation, it is inevitable that this game will be hotly debated in Christian circles.
And just like with the Harry Potter books and movies, many will become extremely upset at the suggestion that there might actually be something wrong with Pokemon Go.
But we all have a responsibility to evaluate what we are feeding into our minds, and this is especially true if you are a parent of young children.
In the end, everyone will do what they think is best for themselves, but as for me and my house we will definitely be staying far away from Pokemon Go.
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