WEST WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI/AP) – Relatives of the many killed and injured in the Station Nightclub fire expressed their displeasure Monday after discovering the fire’s site is included in a popular game.
The West Warwick site is featured as a PokeStop in the ‘Pokemon Go’ game. This means the site is constantly visited by players.
PokeStops have been removed from the atomic bomb memorial park in Hiroshima, Japan, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and other sites. Families say they now want the PokeStop removed from the site of the local tragedy.
“I think it’s unintentionally disrespectful,” said David Kane, father of a victim.
Kane’s son Nicky was the youngest victim of the fire – which claimed the lives of 100 people in 2003. Pokemon Go is now using the site of the fire as a PokeStop, a place where players can stock up on useful items. The game even shows the club and erroneously says 200 people died at the scene.
“The family members, the people most connected to it are sensitive about it and it really causes quite a bit of angst,” Kane said.
Kane’s nephew Eric Georgio lost his cousin in the fire, but as a video game blogger he said he understands why the game’s developers chose the site as a PokeStop.
“They put these PokeStops at cemeteries, at historical monuments at some schools, some libraries,” he said.
He said he has mixed feelings about it.
“It may be bad in the sense that they’re not coming out of respect for those that have passed but I think that by being here and establishing a sense of community around this place, they can learn,” he said.
Kane said his feelings are less ambiguous – he wants the site scrubbed from the game.
“I’m trying to get this site removed from the maps,” he said.
Eyewitness News reached out to the public relations firm for Pokemon Go asking the site would be removed from the game. In a statement, the firm said:
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response from the Pokemon Go community. That enthusiasm has led players to visit many real world locations and we have received requests to remove some locations. We are moving quickly to review all such requests.”
Pokemon Go: What you need to know