It seems like everyone these days is trying to get in on the GPS-based augmented-reality game fad, and the latest entry into the genre comes to us courtesy of…the Catholic Church? Developed by Florida-based Catholic evangelical group Fundación Ramón Pané, Follow JC Go (the JC stands for Jesus Christ, in case that wasn’t clear) takes the formula popularized by Niantic’s Pokemon GO and gives it a religious spin.
Rather than catching electric rodents and sentient ice-cream cones, players of Follow JC Go are tasked with amassing a collection of Catholic saints and other important Biblical figures — though there’s no word on whether the big JC himself is up for grabs. Of course, it probably wouldn’t go over well if players battled the saints and imprisoned them in little balls, so instead, players will have to answer philosophical and theological questions to add new figures to their teams.
According to a report from Catholic publication Crux, the game has received the blessing of Pope Francis himself, who “commended” the game as a tool for reaching younger Catholics who might be more interested in catching ’em all than in catechisms. “You know [Pope] Francis is not a very technological person, but he was in awe,” says Fundación Ramón Pané Executive Director Ricardo Grzona. “He understood the idea, what we were trying to do: combine technology with evangelization.”
Follow JC Go doesn’t feature gyms, battles, or any of the combat-centric elements of its Pokemon predecessor. Instead, players will focus on “collecting things they need for their ‘virtual survival,’ including water, food, [and] spirituality.” The overall goal of the game is, understandably, not necessarily to catch ’em all or to be the very best like no one ever was: “The spiritual payoff will come in the non-virtual world, with the app letting users know they’re near a church and that it’d be a good time to say a prayer.” The app is currently available only in Spanish, but there are plans to release it in English, Italian, and Portugese “in upcoming weeks,” with the goal of putting it to use during the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day, which will be held in Panama in January, 2019.