From Aug.6, thousands of Vietnamese would-be Pokémon trainers have been donning their virtual baseball capsules, flooding into streets on a mission to Catch ‘Em All! Initially, Pokémon are fictional creatures which are caught by trainers in order to fight with others. After many years being famous in video games, animé and trading cards, the worldwide hysteria of Pokémon Go stems from its virtual reality appeal.
After creating a virtual self in the game, your avatar will be showcased onto a map which is based on the real streets of the your own hometown. This means that Pokémon trainer can hunt for a Weedle right at Hoan Kiem Lake rather than wild jungles.
According to Appota, Vietnam has the second fastest growth in the world for smartphone usage (after only China). And mobile gaming in between is a big business in this country, which counts for 60% of smartphone app revenue. Therefore, the first benefit of Pokémon Go will come to the creators.
The hysteria of Pokémon Go is visible anywhere in Vietnam. Even though it is day or night, players of every age can be seen catching Pokémon, hiking between Pokémon stops on the game map. In addition, the unmistakable sound of a virtual Pokéball being thrown could come from the phone of anyone, not just the traditional younger games, but also the middle-aged business person who looks as if they were checking their emails.
The other benefit of this virtual game is, astonishingly, related to health. This game seems to make “couch potatos” get out of their sofa and play physically, because Pokémon eggs can only be hatched by walking to Pokéstops. “I did not think I would walk so much, especially in this hot weather. I think I will be able to shed some weight”, said Nguyen Thanh, a 28 Hanoian who never walked around Hoan Kiem Lake until Pokémon Go lauched.
The Dark Side of Pokémon Go
One of the biggest concerns about Pokémon Go in both Vietnam and other countries now is the safety. The reason is that people always shuffle around staring intently at their phones without paying attention to the traffic.
“I was driving and I honked at the [Pokémon gamers] to keep moving,” local woman Ha My Trang told Vietnam News.
“They didn’t even notice. I had to go over and tell them to move.”
School teacher Linh Ngo has experienced the same problem.
“I have witnessed so many people stopping in the middle of the road,” Linh says. “They risk their lives with their eyes stuck to their phones.”
More severely, on Aug. 15, a baby in its stroller was blown into Dalat’s Xuan Huong Lake, while the oblivious mother played Pokémon Go. The baby was saved by nearby bystanders.
Another big problem is crime. On Aug. 9, Thanh Nien News reported that Nguyen Van Hieu was arrested for snatching a Pokémon gamer’s smartphone at Tao Dan Park in Ho Chi Minh City. Similar stories can be found in almost every country where Pokémon Go is active.
In order to address those issues, the Vietnamese government said that they would contact the game creator, Niantic to remove Pokémon stops from sensitive locations such an Hoan Kiem Lake, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Embassies and Temple of Literature which are well included in Vietnam Tour Packages. They are also assessing the impact of the game and considering a ban on playing this game. So get playing while you still can.