Sunday, 31 July 2016

Picture of the Day: Pokemon Craze

There was a long queue of people waiting patiently to get on the tram!
This past week has been crazy on the streets of Hong Kong, watching people become particularly zombie-like, glued to their phones without a regard to their surroundings.

Thousands of people here have become addicted to Pokemon GO and I've heard of people bumping into lamp posts and trying to play the game surreptitiously under their desks at work.

The police, hospitals and even the People's Liberation Army have all warned players to stay away from their premises, worried they will cause havoc. It would be good not to stray into PLA territory as you never know what might happen...

Not having downloaded the game myself, a few friends have showed me how the augmented reality game works. It's like being in a virtual world where you catch virtual monsters with a ball that you can collect at various points in the city.

As you go by a certain landmark, there's a large disc that players have to spin to get more balls. And it also has a picture of the restaurant or shop that you are approaching.

Then you use these balls as ammunition to hit these pokemon or monsters. The more you shoot down, and the more rare they are, the more points you score. And then you can go to Pokemon Gyms to beef up your strength, which are highly prized places.

That's how the game gets people out to play, which is a good way to encourage them to explore neighbourhoods and meet up with friends.

One of the best ways to play Pokemon GO is on the tram, because you can pass by a lot of places on Hong Kong island for only HK$2.30.

So perhaps I should not have been surprised when I saw a massive line-up for the tram at the Kennedy Town terminus this afternoon after I came back from the gym. There must have been over 30 people waiting in line, when usually there is only a handful.

Hong Kong Tramways that runs the trams must be happy about this unexpected windfall -- its revenues have been dropping because of the MTR expansion to Western and also because it's summer not many are willing to sit in a tram without air conditioning.

But who knows how long this Pokemon Go crazy will last? Two friends remarked that they downloaded the game and within 20 minutes of playing it lost interest. On the other hand there are many others who are completely addicted and are posting updates of what they find on Facebook.

While I'm not too crazy about Pokemon hunters wandering around without noticing who or what they are bumping into, at least they are giving the trams a lot of business!

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