29 August 2016, by Joel Chng
Saturday, 6 August 2016.
I was at Parkway Parade that morning with my family when I received a push alert from The Straits Times app. The news notification read, “Pokemon Go available for download in Singapore“. I excitedly downloaded the free app over my 4G cellular network, despite the game’s large file size at 106 megabytes.
In case you are mistaken, let me clarify that I am not a Pokemon fan. In fact, prior to playing the game, the only Pokemon character I could identify was Pikachu (the yellow mouse-like creature). I was raised in a traditional Chinese-speaking household and was not allowed to watch television or play computer games. As such, I had neither watched the Pokemon anime series nor played Pokemon video games on Game Boy or home consoles.
Back to present day.
My interest in Pokemon Go was piqued due to the worldwide hype surrounding the game. Over the next few hours at Parkway Parade, I found pockets of time to try it out for myself – while waiting for food to arrive at the restaurant, while standing in line at the supermarket, and when my 11-month-old son took rides on the coin-operated cars.
The next day, my family went to ION Orchard for brunch. During our meal we noticed a growing line at the nearby information counter and I went to find out what people were queuing for. Turns out that it was a Pokemon Go campaign! Shoppers received a $5 shopping voucher with every S$50 spent, and the receipts had to be accompanied with a screenshot of any Pokemon captured at the mall. At the end of our meal we happily redeemed a S$5 voucher.
A week later, my father-in-law told me an anecdote about his friend George. George’s teenage son was an introvert who spent most of his time at home, and George often struggled to connect with his son. Then came Pokemon Go, the game changer. As the game requires players to physically travel the real world, George’s son is now eager to go out to ‘catch’ virtual Pokemon. George took this opportunity to bond with his son, who patiently taught him how to play the game. The father and son team now explore tourist attractions, malls and landmarks together to collect Pokemon scattered all over Singapore.
Personally, Pokemon Go has been a positive experience for me. I usually play the game on weekends whenever my family visits someplace new – just to see what characters, pre-determined by the game’s developers, are available for me to ‘catch’. My son is too young for smartphones and mobile devices and my wife has no access to the game on her BlackBerry, but they are supportive of my latest hobby and we enjoy going on Pokemon hunts together.
While we are on the topic of Pokemon hunting, my brother-in-law is travelling to Australia next month – perhaps I can ask him to log into my Pokemon Go account during his holiday, to help me ‘catch’ rare Pokemons which are found only in Australia!