Gotta catch ‘em all: ‘Pokemon Go’ fever hits Singapore

(International Business Time)

The “Pokemon Go” fever has already arrived in Singapore ahead of its official release in the country. Fans like Elaine Rachel, 31, have caught eight Pokemon characters as of Monday (11 July).

The viral mobile game uses augmented reality to allow users to “catch” Pokemon characters according to their smartphone’s geolocation by super-imposing the characters into real life locations. 

The app was launched by mobile game company Niantic in Australia last Wednesday (6 July) and has been a global phenomenon even though it has been released only in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand so far. 

Elaine downloaded the game via an app link that was circulated on Wednesday (6 July). Soon after, she caught her first Pokemon character, called “Charmander”.

“I think everyone gets their first Pokemon at the location they are at… then I caught the latest one during lunch break today (11 July) at Rocky Master (cafe),” she said, and added that she saw a few people playing the game as well. 

Elaine said that app was disabled temporarily after she caught her first character.

“I caught Charmander on the same night, then they [Niantic] did a ban on the maps that were not launched yet. I waited till today (Monday) when I heard Pokemon Go was live, and went to catch a few more. Now the servers are down… I’m hoping it comes back up soon,” said Elaine, who discovered a work around to downloading the mobile game app ahead of its official release in Singapore. According to reports, impatient gamers who downloaded the app illegally are at risk of having their phones affected by malware.

Meanwhile, Singapore-based Australian gamer Sonny Truyen was recently fired from his job here following his outrage on Facebook calling Singapore a “shit country” for not having the game available here.

Pokemon characters caught by Elaine. The photo on the right shows a character called “Doduo”, caught along Anson Road in Tanjong Pagar via the app. (Screenshot courtesy of Elaine Rachel)

Due to its popularity, the app’s international release has been paused due to server problems.

According to Forbes, Niantic chief executive officer John Hanke said that the rollout is paused until the company feels “comfortable”.

“We thought the game would be popular, but it obviously struck a nerve,” he was quoted as saying.

Hanke is a former Google veteran, and was also one of the founders of Keyhole, the company that Google bought to start Google Earth. Hanke was also part of the team behind Google Maps for some time before forming Niantic.

Virtual reality, real life trouble

Soon after the app’s launch, some Pokemon addicts have gotten hurt in real life walking into objects or twisting ankles while walking and staring at their phones. 

In one incident in the state of Missouri in the US, robbers used the app to lure victims to a secluded location before robbing them, while in another incident in Wyoming, a girl’s Pokemon hunt led her to the grisly discovery of a dead body.