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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Pokemon Go coming to Malaysia soon: Here's what You need to know

Malaysian Pokemon trainers rejoice! For there are strong signs that Pokemon Go will make its debut in Malaysia very soon. Can I get a hallelujah?!

When it was announced that servers were created for eight countries in Asia, Malaysia was initially left out – sad right? But not anymore as Malaysia finally get its own server soon.

Internet users have scoured the digital realm and came across a website keeping tabs on server statuses which listed Malaysia, among other newly listed countries, under its Pokemon Go section at Apparently some people even noticed the Malaysian server going online last Saturday morning for a short while stoking fans hopes further.

Although many of the servers particularly the ones listed in Southeast Asia are still offline despite being on the list a week earlier, Malaysian fans are holding on to the glimmer of hope that Japan and Hong Kong got their official launch not long after the listing became available.

Things also appear to be heating up on the mobile service provider’s side. The ever resourceful Pokemon Go fans have also unearthed a cached webpage from a prepaid mobile service provider website (read Hotlink) which announced that a promotion is available to Pokemon trainers with mobile ride-sharing app Grab Malaysia.

Grab Malaysia and Hotlink are brokering a deal which barring any unforeseen obstacles would see all Pokemon Go hunters getting a free ride via Grab for the first two days after the game app’s hotly anticipated launch – which could be anytime soon, local technology news portal reports.

The prepaid mobile service provider is also lining up a lot of goodies for the hundreds of thousands of Pokemon Go fans among its customers, among others US$100 worth of PokeCoins – the ingame currency – via Hotlink Cash Online. That is equivalent to 14,500 PokeCoins! What a good way to start the adventure of becoming a Pokemon Master.

That’s not all, Hotlink customers can also get to enjoy a flat 10 percent off PokeCoins every time they purchase it via Hotlink Cash Online.

Certainly a glimmer of hope that all its local fans will taken note of as they read about the antics of other fellow fans in other parts of the world.

On July 6, 2016, Pokemon fans got the chance to relive their childhood memories of becoming a Pokemon Master and travel the world – literally, when Pokemon Go was initially released in Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

For the uninitiated, the Pokemon Go app requires players to use their smartphone’s Global Positioning System (GPS) capability to locate, capture, battle and train Pokemon that appear on the screen as if they were in the real-world location as the player.

The alarming speed at which this augmented reality smartphone app game about catching Nintendo’s popular pocket monsters has garnered active users had taken the industry and its providers by surprise.

The early stages saw servers in various countries momentarily crashing as users exceeded the initial estimates catered for in the servers, as Pokemon Go has gone on the history books as gaining more active users than the likes of Facebook, Tinder, Twitter and Snapchat since its launch.

Despite the mixed reviews, it became an overnight global phenomenon and one of the most used mobile apps. It is reported that Pokemon Go app has been downloaded by more than 75 million people worldwide.

What set the game apart from thousands of other mobile games? First, obviously there’s nostalgia at play here. However for someone who collected only few of the original cards and play Pokemon Red on Game Boy, I don’t think this is the sole reason for the game’s success.

A big part of it is the psychology behind the Pokemon’s slogan “Gotta catch ‘em all” that gives a very specific goal with at least 150 potential dopamine rushes to enjoy while travelling across the land searching for Pokemon.

Researchers at the University of Rochester in New York State found that people are more likely to continue playing games that give them feelings of autonomy, competence and connection with others.

However not all people are happy with the game. They feel that the players pose a nuisance, trespassing on private property and often become so engrossed that they do not pay attention to their surroundings, jeopardising their safety.

The tremendous popularity of the game can also work against it as the media attention has not been all good.

In order to get a better grip of how Malaysians feel about Pokemon Go, I joined a Facebook group called Pokemon Go [Malaysia] a community of Malaysian Pokemon Go players who enjoy trading, discussing and doing various activities together that relate to the game. If you haven't figured it out, I am also a big fan of the franchise and couldn’t wait for the game to be released in Malaysia.

Pokemon Go: The Bad, And The Good Too

While Malaysians are waiting for their country’s server to go online, we are inundated by news about Pokemon Go in other countries with plenty of negative publicity surrounding the bad situations that players get themselves in when engrossed in playing the game.

In just a matter of weeks after its release, one death related to the game has occurred. On July 20, it was reported that a 18-year-old boy in Chiquimula, Guatemala was shot and killed while his 17-year-old cousin who was accompanying him, was shot in the foot.

Whereas in Australia, 22-year-old Tanami Nayler was out playing Pokemon Go when a man driving in a stolen car hit her and left her to die, The Queensland Times reported.

For instance, last week President of Pertubuhan Martabat Julinan Muhibbah Malaysia (MJMM) Abdul Rani Kulup Abdullah said the augmented reality game would destroy Muslims’ faith and promote social ills among youths.

To make matters more dramatic, on the same week, Penang Mufti Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor has called for Pokemon Go to be declared “haram” with immediate effect saying that a study by the mufti’s department that the “negative” outweighed the “positive”, Sinar Harian reports.

Pokemon Go players do not deny there are some elements of negativity surrounding the game but so does most other popular gaming pursuits currently available in the market.

As we have seen with other modern inventions and discoveries, there is no point in shutting ourselves from the rest of the world and pretend what we don’t like or conform to our culture does not exist.

The global and inter-connected world we live in today does not allow that kind of blinkered view of the world anymore.

Just because Pokemon Go does not fit in your ideology or you simply hate the game, it does not mean you should ban it.

Local Fans Are Enthusiastic About The Positive Benefits Of The Game

When I asked the members in the Pokemon Go [Malaysia] group about the benefits that we could get while playing it, many highlighted “exercise” because the game requires players to actually go to the location where the Pokemon creatures are spawned.

How many times do we hear hardcore gamers who are often sworn couch potatoes to ever utter the word ‘exercise’?

Farhan Izack said; “It will be fun going out jogging while catching some Pokemon or go to PokeStop/gym.”

While Amir Syafiq said the playing the game would prevent him from being obese.

“Encourage the youngsters (also adults) to keep an active lifestyle by going out to find Pokemon in a fitting distant. Also, a good potential to reduce the proportion of obesity in Malaysia,” said Dave Khodzairie.

“People in general would spend more time outdoors playing this game. Social events can be held in conjunction with the game to create a larger crowd,” Lim Chong Tat commented.

Apart from getting some much needed exercise while out looking for Pokemon, another benefit that the game can offer is just like Lim said about social events, players could socialise while out looking and catching Pokemon.

“I was sending this middle-aged man to the airport and he told me that his son loves playing video games and would stay at home and never leaves the house.

“But when his son starts playing Pokemon Go, he would go out and then came back home telling the whole family what he saw.

“So yes, this game is good for socialising,” wrote a Facebook user with pseudonym Ezio Mienyukalis.

Dave Khodzairie said it would improve our social system as Pokemon Go players tend to meet one another and share their experience while on their journey to be the very best. (I know what you did there Dave)

“Pokemon Go concept encourages players to interact with the environments rather than staying in their homes.

Hence, a bad lifestyle is discouraged in order to experience the game. Unless, you have a different definition of a bad lifestyle,” he said.

Fans Highlight The Projected Boost It Brings To Tourism And Business Too

Speaking about travelling the world in order to be the very best and catch ‘em all, Pokemon Go could boost Malaysia’s economy in tourism industry. Dave Khodzairie so aptly put that the game would attract visitors to beautiful places in Malaysia as Pokemon spawn prioritise unique areas.

“The possibility is high in term of promoting tourism as Pokemon spawns are mostly focused in the beautiful places.

“Hence, encourages both local and international Pokemon Go players to enrich tourism sites,” he said.

On the other hand, another Pokemon Go fan, Isabelle Yushin said the game could make use landmarks to attract people hence promoting our heritage sites to tourists, informing them about special places in Malaysia. Imagine going to Tasik Kenyir to capture Gyarados or climb up the Mount Kinabalu to capture Geodude or Clefairy.

Local advertising and marketing news portal Vulcan Post had also reported on how business startups in Malaysia can benefit from the impending launch of the game in Malaysia in a report last week.

The report ‘How Malaysian Startups Can Use Pokemon Go’ highlights some enterprising businesses like running their Kaodimon hunt, where users search a 360° Facebook photo to see if they can spot a Kaodimon and then share to win prizes. Another innovative initiative comes from ServisHero, which has also jumped in with some Pok├ębranding for their app, Vulcan Post reports.

In a tongue-in-cheek manner, the report listed fitness-related startups, transportation and ride-sharing apps which can come up with packages to send trainers to their Pokestops and even eateries who can lure hungry hunters to their joints with in-game lures or through restaurant and food discovery apps.

Even more far out there, the report suggests game concierge services for the financially well-endowed who want to claim themselves as Poketrainers but are just too lazy to do it themselves.

“By The End Of The Day, It Is How You Play The Game Or Use The Technology”

It is after all just a game, so take a chill pill will ya?

Nonetheless, we cannot deny that the game will make players focus on the screen while wandering into some questionable areas in search of the next valuable character.

But that should not be the reason to stop people from having fun. Instead of trying to ban or shut out potential risks, players should learn to play the game responsibly.

Anwari Hamzah said there are many irresponsible players and that we could only warn them about the risk of not paying attention to their surroundings while playing the game.

He further said, whatever Pokemon Go players did or do, the game should not be held responsible as it is the player's’ choice to play the game and exploit their surroundings to find the Pokemon.

“By the end of the day, it is how you play the game or use the technology.

“If we are trying to emphasise on the pros and cons of Pokemon Go, we are actually trying to define what smartphone really is,” he points out.

Voicing the same opinion as Anwari Hamzah, Dave Khodzairie said technology has always been bad in the wrong hands.

Furthermore, he thinks that establishing an appropriate policy is the solution or a proper analysis on the safety statistics should be made once the game is released.

“Security access has been entirely fixed through the latest update.

“Players safety only apply to children that will require them to go out with the assistance of adults,” he said. have come up safety tips while playing Pokemon Go for parents and children of all ages.

According to them teenagers have a high risk of getting into trouble while playing it as they might be driving to a nearby PokeStop and try to capture a Pokemon from behind the wheel. Parents should take their smartphone away until they understand that the rule about using smartphones while driving is not negotiable.

Since the game requires players to walk around, this means players might be walking through dangerous areas with the face on the screen, not watching where they are going. Hence parents should remind your children to be careful and watch where they are going whenever they go hunting.

Some characters spawn at secluded places thus nobody should be going to such places alone. Parents should keep in mind to set some strict boundaries about where your children can go hunting, which they can go with and at what time of day they need to return home.

Lastly the site said another way to make sure your children are safe while playing the game is to play the game together hence turning it into a fun family activity.

Perhaps people like Rani Kulup and Penang Mufti Wan Ismail are overreacting about the game because by the end of the day, it is just a game. If these people need more reason to believe that the game is actually good, kindly show them this website that explains the reasons why people should play the game.

--Malaysian Digest

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