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Pokémon GO and the New Satanic Panic

Pokémon GO and the New Satanic Panic

Pokémon Go is a game phenomenon which has added $7 billion to the value of Nintendo in less time than it takes to pickle a cucumber. But a number of podcasters and YouTubers have suggested that the game is anti-Christian, even Satanic. These charges are false, and are based on a satirical interview from years ago. The actual origins of Pokémon Go are even weirder.

What Is Pokémon Go?

If you’ve been on an extended fishing trip into the no cell service wildlands of Montana for the past few weeks, here’s Bill O’Reilly to explain what Pokémon Go is. By the way, O’Reilly said Pokémon Go is a good thing, because it gets the kids outside.

Pokémon Go: Satan’s Game?

But others look at the game, and see a phantom peril. Pastor Rick Wiles said on his podcast, “These Pokémon creatures are like virtual, cyber-demons.” Wiles believes that, “The enemy, Satan, is targeting churches with virtual, digital, cyber-demons. I believe [Pokémon Go] is a magnet for demonic powers.”

These ideas have found purchase in the beyond Wiles and his podcast. YouTubers have picked up the charge, claiming even that Pokemon creator Satoshi Tajiri created Pokémon to battle Christianity. Some even helpfully cite an interview where Tajiri said as much.

Don’t Believe Everything You Read on the Internet

And it is that interview which is the key to debunking this panic. The interview originally appeared on Play4Real, and in it, Tajiri makes explosive claims, such as “Pokémon is essentially the correct answer towards life, not Christianity,” a statement which anyone who has ever played Pokémon knows is absurd. Furthermore, while the article is labeled as satire, that has not stopped irresponsible journalists from citing it as gospel.

So the source of this alarm and panic is one satirical article, and Pokémon Go is no more Satanic than the Beatles. But what is the actual origin of the Pokémon?

Of Beetles and Battles

Satoshi Tajiri grew up collecting insects. But in Japan, insect collecting does not just involve pinning specimens to cork and putting them on display. Insect maniacs keep their bugs alive, and train them. Then, at festivals, they fight!

Pokémon Go is an exact virtual simulation of Satoshi Tajiri’s favorite childhood hobby. Just as Satoshi had to wander the hills and streams of Japan to find insects, so must you wander your own neighborhoods to find Pokémon. As Satoshi would battle his beetles, so too must you battle your Pokémon. There is nothing Satanic, demonic, or even philosophical about Pokémon Go, at least no philosophy beyond what you will find on a good walk.

It is a curious thing, that when our culture encounters something new in the nerd sphere, it so quickly reaches for the old boogeymen of Satan and demons to say it is a corrupting influence. Dungeons & Dragons suffered similar charges in the 70s and 80s. (To read more about the Satanic panic of the past, click here.)

More on the debunking of charges of Satanism and demons can be found at

Why do you think people react to new gaming sensations with charges of Satanism? Let us know in the comments below!

Feature image courtesy Nintendo



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