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Habits of Pokémon Go users in Hà Nội generates anxiety

Update: August, 13/2016 - 09:00
Gotta catch’em all: People lose themselves playing Pokemon Go game in downtown Hà Nội. — VNS Photo Đoàn Tùng

Viet Nam News 

Nguyễn Thuỳ Linh

After much anticipation, Pokémon Go officially launched in Việt Nam on August 6.

The mobile game has encouraged crowds of youths to loiter around sidewalks, roads, and other public spaces. According to GameK, the largest gaming website in Việt Nam, the most densely populated area is Hồ Tây lake, which houses 50 pokéstops and 17 gyms.

A PokéStop is a place in real life such as a monument, art installment, or historical site marked by a blue tower on the map where Poké Balls and other goodies can be obtained. PokéStops in Hà Nội range from the Friendship Cultural Palace on Trần Hưng Đạo Street, to an obscure red and blue statue titled “Red and Blue” in Ciputra International City.  

“I did not think I would walk so much because of this hot weather, but [the app] indicates I’ve walked 5 kilometers,” states Nguyên Thanh. “I think I will finally be able to shed some weight and the best thing is that I do not feel tired.”

Thanh turned 28 last month, and claims that this is the first time he has walked around Hoàn Kiếm lake— despite living in Hà Nôi his whole life.

The augmented reality game claims to offer an unparalleled gaming experience of “capturing 3D monsters with futuristic augmented reality which makes it feel like they’re actually there” (Niantic). The game developers created the game with the hope that it would promote exercise, motivate social activity, and encourage exploration of key landmarks.

“I would agree that this game is a form of social activity, although I admit that we don’t talk much when a Pokemon shows up” says an unidentified, 16-year-old student. “I cannot tell you my name, because my parents think I am elsewhere.”

However, not everyone is excited with what the Niantic game has to offer.

“I have witnessed so many young adults stopping in the middle of the road, risking their lives with their eyes stuck to their phones” says Phương Hằng, an English teacher at the Foreign Trade University. “I recently learned that they are playing Pokemon Go.”

“At midnight last night, my family was asleep, and a young lady rung my doorbell asking to come into my house to catch a Pokemon. I could not believe what I was seeing, and I told her that I could not allow it” says Hà Mỹ Trang, a 37-year-old working mother of two children.

The game has inspired new social habits— many of which are interfering with the daily lives of citizens and proving to be dangerous.

“I was driving and I honked at the [Pokemon gamers] to keep moving, but they did not even notice. I had to go over and tell them to move,” continues Trang, discussing the incident that happened two days ago.

Phương Hằng continues, “It is okay to play responsibly. However, if you are trying to catch Pokémon while driving, that’s unacceptable. Doing so puts your life and the lives of others in grave danger.” — VNS

Gotta catch’em all: People lose themselves playing Pokemon Go game in downtown Hà Nội. — VNS Photo Lê Ngọc Long


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