Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — Since its official launch, Pokémon Go, one of the first mobile games to offer an augmented-reality experience, has taken the world by storm and Việt Nam is no exception.
Within days of being officially available in Việt Nam on August 6, the game became so popular that it was not difficult to spot players with their smartphones searching for Pokemons on the streets of HCM City and other cities.
With Pokémon Go, players use their smartphone cameras to explore neighborhoods to capture virtual creatures and treasures. Advancing in the game involves collecting Poke Balls to catch Pokemons, which can be found at Pokestops.
Players use the captured Pokemons to fight other players at so-called Gyms.
Both Pokestops and Gyms are located in public places such as bookstores, schools and landmarks flagged by the game on a digital map.
In HCM City, Tao Đàn Park in District 3 and Nguyễn Huệ Pedestrian Park in District 1 are among the Pokestops that have been drawing big crowds.
“It’s cool! Most Pokestops and Gyms are located at convenient places where I can sit and play the game,” Nguyễn Minh Đạt, 23, told Việt Nam News during a break at Tao Đàn Park.
Trịnh Nguyễn Hồng Nhung, 18, was also playing the game at the park. “Though it’s crowded here with players, there are many Pokemons here. I came here to look for them without having to move too much,” he said.
When asked why they had started playing the game, many people at the park said they had initially downloaded the game out of curiosity.
“Pokémon Go was being so hyped overseas. And I know many foreign friends who play it and enjoy it, that’s why I wanted to try it out for myself to see whether it was worth the hype,” Nguyễn Cường, 24, told me.
Trần Hải Phong, 29, agreed. “I heard about Pokémon Go a while ago but I only started to play it after I saw many people enjoying catching the Pokemons. Now, I’m hooked!”
On a different note, some players said they decided to try Pokémon Go because of the nostalgic feelings the game had stirred up.
“My obsession for Pokémon Go started when I was a kid. I have a Pokemon collection, including books, stickers and plastic models of Pokemon,” Nguyễn Chi, 28, said. “I would have never thought that one day I could finally catch one of them simply by using my phone!”
The game appeals to older adults as well. Trần Cảnh Nhật Minh, 49, who was looking for Pokemons at Tao Đàn Park, said that he was a bit embarrassed to admit that he was playing the game, but conceded it was “fantastic and fun”!
“It’s beautiful seeing a game that brings so many people together, especially at a time when there is so much madness, including shootings and terrorism, happening across the world,” Minh said.
Despite its popularity, the hit app Pokémon Go is raising concerns about whether the game’s location and mapping features are luring players into dangerous situations.
In Singapore, multiple instances of accidents, injuries and thefts have been reported.
According to The Strait Times, authorities have posted notes to remind trainers “to be safe, careful and responsible, and not to be carried away with the game” since many Pokestops are located at waterways and “sensitive” spots.
In Việt Nam, many people have been caught snatching smartphones from the hands of players, especially at Pokémon Go hotspots such as Tao Đàn Park and Nguyễn Huệ pedestrian street.
As reported in Thanh Niên News, a man was arrested and handed over to the police for snatching a phone from a Pokémon Go player late Monday night (August 8).
The Pokémon Go craze has also been affecting Google Map Maker Việt Nam since players are creating virtual places on Google maps to catch Pokemons, disturbing the locations of real places and reducing the accuracy of Google Map data, according to a representative of Google Map Maker Việt Nam. The company has asked players to stop creating virtual places.
However, despite its controversies, Pokémon Go remains a hot phenomenon and there are no signs of it slowing down. Only time will tell if will thrive or end like many other fads. — VNS