Just take a look around you, and you would probably see someone engaged with their smartphones, desperately trying to land that Eevee that they so desire. I am probably guilty of this as well, staying up till the wee hours of the morning, exploring every nook and cranny of my neighbourhood trying to see if there are any hidden gems just round the corner. Perhaps a timely reminder of my current craze over Pokemon Go came the next day when I woke up to an extremely painful and stiff neck. I found this alarming and amusing; I always looked up whenever I encountered traffic or needed to be mindful of my surroundings. Indeed, many Singaporeans have forgotten that Hungry Ghosts are amongst us, apart from Pokemon.
As I sat at a popular Pokestop blessed with an abundance of lures and desirable Pokemon waiting to be captured, I could not help but notice the varying demographic of people wanting to catch them all. You could see young children begging their parents to stay even for just 5 more minutes in hopes of catching that elusive one, teenagers flocking in numbers past their bedtimes, working adults having supper with their phones by their side and parents joining in the fun as well, albeit some choosing to stake the Pokemon out while in their cars to enjoy the cool air and music. Even pets are forced into the action as well, accompanying their owners on their quest.
While this game really brings back memories and grants me the opportunity to experience the journey in the most realistic way possible to date, I cannot help but feel sorry that the children of this generation are unable to really enjoy playing with toys. And by toys I am referring to “real” toys, built with wood, plastic or metal, where the only remnants of technology present in these toys serve to enhance the playing experience itself, and are not a part of the playing experience. I’m talking about action figures, Tamiya cars, Beyblades, Play-doh, Lego and my all-time favourite, construction vehicles. There is just something about these “brick and mortar” toys that really keeps me going back to them, again and again. While Pokemon Go is undeniably a very sociable game, with packs of friends staying out till late to hunt and explore together, you rarely see anyone interacting with people beyond their own social circle. Even the first generation of Pokemon on the classic Gameboy Colour console was a more sociable game than Pokemon Go, owing to the fact that you could always get a cable to hook up and battle with your friends. Even more so with your “brick and mortar” toys, where children learnt how to make friends, share, compromise and socialise with one another through these toys. Nowadays, children are forced into sharing because their lure modules affect the entire area. Let’s face it, no one wants to reveal where their hidden Dratini nest lies as well, lest your neighbourhood becomes extremely overpopulated and rowdy into the wee hours of the night.
Numerous parental concerns have also surfaced as a result of the release of Pokemon Go over the weekend. My aunt went live on Facebook to showcase the craze that has hit the infamous 401 coffeeshop in Hougang, and her comments are flooded with emojis that signified anger and disappointment and concerns such as “national exams are so near” and “I will definitely stay away from this game”. This is Singapore after all, and it won’t be surprising before some schools decide to hit a ban on the game in their compounds. The Singapore Armed Forces have taken the lead in doing so (and for very valid reasons as well), imposing strict penalties for flouting their ban on using the app while in SAF compounds. However, only time will tell how committed Singaporeans are to the cause before such measures are to be implemented, and if the first few days are a sign of things to come, it would not be long before there are “Pokemon No” zones established.
On a lighter side of things, I really applaud the creativity of the developers, especially when it comes to the Pokestops. How some stones on the floor, murals on the wall and residential signboards have made their way into the game is just beyond anyone’s imagination, and the naming of some of these Pokestops are to be given credit as well. A fitness corner near my place is named “Pole Land”, and the image representing the Pokestop was that of a few step-up poles (I guess this game really takes me to places). Some Pokestops also give out clues as to when this game was in its development stage, as a LRT station around my neighbourhood had General Election posters in the Pokestop image. “Pole Land”, as mentioned earlier, no longer exists today as that fitness corner has undergone a facelift. Simple things like these amuse and intrigue me, and I am left wondering if I should feel worried or glad over me feeling so easily bemused or me being so observant of my surroundings. You could tell that this game was hard work, even for such a small country like Singapore.
Inevitably, the Pokemon Go craze will soon die down in Singapore, as with all crazes that hit our shores. And perhaps, as a rule of thumb for any craze that will envelop our lives in the coming weeks, or even months, let us remember not to lose sight of the things that are “real” priorities in our lives, and to continue our Pokemon hunting only as a hobby or leisurely activity.