Pokemon still going
AS Pokemon Go in Myanmar enters its second week in headlines, the community of players in Yangon has become a force to be reckoned with.
Around 50 Pokémon Go trainers met at Sar J Poe, a co-working and learning space in downtown Yangon, on August 14 to discuss tips of the trade.
They were visited by members from a local charity – dressed in Pikachu costumes – who explained that they would buy lure modules to draw Pokemon and those that hunt them into central areas. In return, the representatives asked for donations to those affected by the seasonal flooding throughout the country.
After the donation collection, players got down to business.
Level 16 trainer Khant Zin Lynn shared the history of the Pokemon while trainer Ko Lwin told trainees his knowledge of the game, including which phone models do not display the game.
Co-founder of the newly opened Sar J Poe Natty Tangmeesang, said, “It’s a new theme and it is actually not available in Myanmar. People can download it through APK, a thirdparty application on Android. Because it is third party, there are technical errors.”
While Pokemon Go is not officially available in Myanmar, many players in Yangon, at least, are able to catch ‘em all due to the country’s proximity to Thailand.
“I play myself and learned a lot from my friends, such as how to play and where to catch. I feel like it is a good thing if people are educated because a lot of people don’t really know how to play it,” Ms Tangmeesang added. “I think it’s better to have an expert who knows the game well and can answer people’s questions.” Pokemon poses danger to players Though playing Pokemon through an augmented reality is an exciting feature to the gaming world, it can be dangerous to those not keeping an eye out for what is in front of them.
Ms Lynn, a Pokemon expert, has experienced firsthand the collision between augmented reality and reality.
“We were in Pathein when it was flooded looking for Pokemon. A motorcycle was behind us and the driver was also playing Pokemon Go. We reversed our car because of the deep water. Then the bumper of our car hit the front wheel of the motorcycle. Fortunately nothing serious happened. This is our first accident.”
Dolly Handerson, a Level 13 player, urged other players to be safe and pay attention to their surroundings.
“We should be careful while crossing the street and driving. Yesterday, I saw a boy playing Pokemon Go who was almost hit by a car.”
Even players who have successfully caught a Pikachu or Bulbasaur without injury still find it challenging to find the little critters in Yangon.
“It is okay to catch Pokemon in public areas such as Mahabandoola Park,” Ms Handerson said, “However, when Pokestops are in private areas such as Parkroyal hotel or in restaurants, people expect me to order something. Otherwise, they don’t want us to catch Pokemon in their businesses.”
At the training session Ms Lynn informed players that most of the Pokestops exist near Yangon’s landmark spots—notably the city’s churches and Shwedagon Pagoda.
A Level 12 player, Aye Min noted that “Pokestops don’t exist near my township, Ahlone. I have to walk to Shwedagon Pagoda if I want to catch.”
Despite these limitations, however, the game has creative a positive wave, pushing people to go out and be more social.
“We even talk to strangers — hey, which level are you? What kind of Pokemon have you caught? And we can even become friends,” said Ms Handerson.
According to posts on a tech blog, Mr Review, Pokemon Go still doesn’t work in Huawei G Play Min, MeiZu M3 Note, OPPO R1, OPPO Joy 3, Hello Premium 7, and Xiaomi Mi3.
Pokemon stops around the world
As Pokemon Go expands around the world, it has begun to bring to mind a few main questions.
Which sites are appropriate to play Pokemon Go? How does one safely play in an augmented reality when one’s reality is already quite unsafe? How do leaders of nations where Pokemon Go stands in opposition of its ideologies respond?
Most recently, Pokemon Go has received criticism as players have been found catching Pokemon at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, the Auschwitz museum in Poland, and the Hiroshima memorial in Japan.
According to the AFP, organisations can ask Niantic, the game’s developer, to remove a location as a Pokestop or Gym. Already the Hiroshima and Berlin Holocaust memorials have disappeared from Pokemon viewers’ eyes.
Volunteers collect donations for renting the space at Sar J Poe, a co-working and learning start-up in downtown Yangon.
Pokemon T-shirts, denoting Team Valor, Team Instinct and Team Mystic, were available at the trainer meet-up.