Pokémon Go is the wildly successful mobile game first released in July, 2016. Since then, it has grossed more than $2 billion worldwide.
Now there is a new game on the scene, a knock-off version of Pokémon Go was just released, called Follow JC Go!, where the players collect saints and characters from the Bible. The game was released by Fundación Ramón Pané (Foundation Ramon Pane), a group focused on Catholic evangelizing. The game is currently only available in Spanish, but versions in English, Italian, and Portuguese are expected to be released within the next several weeks.
The game has been released just a few months before World Youth Day 2019, a Catholic youth event taking place in Panama in January.
Like in Pokémon Go, the game uses smartphone cameras to create an "augmented reality" in which players can track down and capture characters.
In order to capture a character the players must answer religious quiz questions. In an example given by the executive director of the foundation behind the game, players could find Moses, who would ask, “Was it me who said: ‘My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?'"
If the player gets the answer correct, then the character will join their e-team, which stands for Evangelization Team (barf).
Additionally, players can collect water, food (manna, maybe?), and "spirituality" which all contribute to their in-game health. The game also encourages worship by notifying players when they pass a church and suggesting that they stop and pray. Players are also given prompts to donate to charity, and to specifically pray for the sick if they are in or near a hospital.
While the Vatican was not directly involved in the app's development, Pope Francis is reportedly a fan. Ricardo Grzona, the executive director behind the game who gave the Moses example above, told Crux News, “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.”
Not everyone is a fan, of course. While I write this post, the game's Google Play page shows a rating of 3.3 out of 5. I think one of the more amusing one-star reviews I saw was someone who blamed the devil for the app not working on their phone.
Damn that pesky, Satan, keeping Jesus out of our cellphones...