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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 26, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 43
Catholics rip off Pokémon Go
Section One
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Catholics rip off Pokémon Go

'Follow JC Go' now available online

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A Roman Catholic missionary group has launched a new online mobile game - called Follow JC Go - in preparation for World Youth Day 2019.

The event for Catholic young people is scheduled to take place in Panama in January.

Like the original Pokémon Go, the Catholic game lets players catch animated figures, only in the knockoff version, players catch Catholic saints, not cute little monsters.

Pokémon Go has been downloaded around 800 million times and has brought in over $2 billion in revenue since 2016.

Follow JC Go is the brainchild of Fundación Ramón Pané, a group named for the Catalan monk who accompanied Christopher Columbus on his second voyage and became the first European who is known to have studied the native Taino language.

As with Pokémon Go, the game uses the player's smartphone camera to take in their surroundings, then superimposes digital characters.

Players progress through the game by answering religious quiz questions when they 'meet' a saint, like attributing a quote from the Bible.

For example, a player might 'meet' Moses, who asks, 'Was it me who said: 'My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?'?'

If the player gets it right, the character will join their e-team (or Evangelization Team).

Players can also collect virtual water, food, and 'spirituality' to contribute to their in-game health.

The game also prompts players to stop and pray if they pass a church. Or, in a hospital, they might be urged to say a prayer for the sick. Players can also donate to Catholic charities through the app.

Follow JC Go launched in Spanish on October 19, with Italian, English, and Portuguese versions expected in the coming weeks. Its creators say the goal is to teach players of all ages about the Catholic faith.

Though the app does not have the Vatican's seal of approval, the Pope is said to be a fan.

'You know, Francis is not a very technological person, but he was in awe, he understood the idea, what we were trying to do: combine technology with evangelization,' Ricardo Grzona, executive director of Fundación Ramón Pané, told Catholic news site Crux Now.

The site reports that 43 designers, theologians, Bible experts, and church historians have poured 32,000 work hours into the app since August 2016. It was reportedly financed with $500,000 of sponsorship and private donations.

On the Google store, however, users have given the app only 3.2 stars out of five.

'I wanted to burn heretics,' one user complained, perhaps sarcastically, 'but it wasn't possible.'

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