There’s a secret war for the White House, and it doesn’t involve Donald Trump.
Right now, legions of Pokémon fans are battling it out to control the building — or more precisely, a virtual gym that sits over the leader of the free world’s home in the wildly popular new augmented reality smartphone game “Pokémon Go.”
According to Kotaku, the conflict between the game’s three rival factions is so intense, the game keeps crashing and is barely playable in the area. The only surefire way to seize the White House gym is to take it at night.
Similar wars are taking place all over the world as “Pokémon Go” continues to roll out globally. The game has been a runaway success, with tens of millions of downloads in a week; it’s so popular that developer Niantic has had to slow down its international launches as it struggles to cope with the demand.
The locations of gyms — and pokestops, where players can pick up items — are drawn from a database of popular locations from Niantic’s previous augmented reality smartphone game. As a result, the most famous landmarks and sites in cities are being transformed into battlegrounds, attracting swarms of players fighting for the glory of their team.
I took a walk around central London on Thursday, the day after “Pokémon Go” officially launched in the UK, to track down the city’s hottest gyms. I didn’t spot the same huge crowds of players that are spontaneously gathering at some US pokestops and gyms — but everywhere I went I could see people playing. Gyms were constantly changing hands, barely lasting a minute under one faction’s control before switching. Tourists and Londoners sat around chatting and frantically catching. Pokémon fever is definitely here.
Below is a map of some of the key gym locations we identified in central London. The hottest has to be Buckingham Palace, which has not one but two gyms within metres of each other. Piccadilly Circus was changing hands constantly. The London Eye was packed — but signal was so bad it was difficult to even load the app.
1 — The Eros statue at Piccadilly Circus. This one’s really popular: The steps of the statue were covered in players.
2, 3 — The two gyms at Buckingham Palace. One is the Queen Victoria Memorial Statue, while the other is the official Buckingham Palace gym.
4 — The Fourth Plynth in Trafalgar Square.
5 — Parliament doesn’t have its own gym — just some pokestops. But Big Ben is a gym.
6 — The London Eye is another impressive gym to take on, if your signal holds out.
7 — Heading further east, this is the London Necropolis Railway Station.
8 — Just off the edge of the map is a gym at the MI5 building.
9 — There are also reports of a gym at Covent Garden, but be warned: We didn’t visit and verify this one.
10 — Orange Street Congregational Church is less famous than some of the other locations on this list, but because of its location, its a good one to pop into while you’re battling at the Fourth Plinth or Piccadilly Circus.
This guide isn’t exhaustive — do you know more popular gyms in central London? Email the author and let us know: [email protected]
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