Pokémon GO scores with elusive millennials in Pew survey debut

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A virtual map of Bryant Park is displayed on the screen as a man plays the augmented reality mobile game "Pokemon Go" by Nintendo in New York City, on July 11, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich

A virtual map of Bryant Park is displayed on the screen as a man plays the augmented reality mobile game "Pokemon Go" by Nintendo in New York City, on July 11, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich

PARKING LOT, Your Local Church (RNS) The evangelistic Pokémon catchphrase “Gotta catch ‘em all” doesn’t just describe the goal of the video game, but the effect the cultural phenomenon is having on American culture. The technologically updated and addictive game that has already surpassed millennial stalwart Tinder in most downloads has captured the attention and devotion of an entire generation.

The Pew Center on Religion and Public Life released its first survey of the American religious landscape since the augmented reality game took over the country. The results show the highest opening position of any religious group in recorded history. Exactly 33% percent of U.S. millennials said “Pokémon” in response to the survey, though it was unclear to researchers if the respondents actually heard the question.

Where are the Pokémon devotees coming from? It appears three in seven people are switching their religious identity completely, while five in eight report they are “double belonging” to both Pokémon and another religious tradition. Researchers attempted to ask millennials more questions about their newfound devotion, but respondent after respondent hung up after noticing a new Pokémon appearing.

Researchers guessed the trend would continue for at least two to three weeks, when they expected most of the converts to revert to religiously “unaffiliated.”

Several prominent religious scholars questioned Pew’s inclusion of the Japanese media franchise in their religious survey. Researches defended the move by telling critics “get off Facebook and just try playing… you’ll get it.”