Local Goa News

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A game that’s taking people places

PANAJI: It's 7pm and daylight is starting to fade at Miramar Circle in Panaji. All the regular beach walkers are starting to make their way home. But one group of people stubbornly hangs on in the darkness, never looking at the sea and seemingly unconcerned about the food stalls, either. They have power banks in their pockets and stay hunched over their phones, looking up now and then to peer curiously, or sometimes, competitively, at one other.

Dark or not, it's still Pokemon Go time, and another heated battle for Miramar Circle 'gym' is under way. No member of teams yellow, red or blue will back down.
By now, everyone knows that Pokemon Go is the hottest smartphone application in history. The augmented reality mobile game, based on the Japanese-created Pokemon anime series, accrued over 100 million downloads in just a month after its release, and has quickly become a craze here in Goa and the rest of India. Bemused parents have already found themselves torn between disapproval and endorsement. On the one hand, their wards are spending much more time glued to their phones, but on the other, they're finally leaving their houses to venture outside and explore the area around them.
"I couldn't wait for the official release in India," says Sanskar Sahu, a committed Pokemon Go player from Taleigao. "I saw some gameplay videos and it looked cool. It was also an advantage strategically, as once the game was released, the early starters would have been more advanced than those who would start playing once it was officially released."
But then, the 16-year-old saw the hidden benefits of the app.
"Exercise is always good for lazy people like me. Also, you can't go to one place everyday, as you'll just get the same Pokemon, so you explore places you may have never noticed before. For me, it was the Ambedkar park, in front of the Kadamba bus stand. I never go there, though it is near my daily route, but the game gave me a reason. It's a great park, and also a place where some awesome Pokemon spawn!" Sahu explains.
Another teen, Ajay, from Bambolim, describes Pokemon Go as "a positive phenomenon as it gets people walking around their hometown". He says he now goes for daily rounds of his neighbourhood to catch new creatures.
Pokemon Go players are everywhere, specially around cultural locations, most of which have become Pokestops. Pokestops (sites where Pokemon Go players can get free items) are all over Panaji. The statue of Abe Faria and certain areas along 18th June Road are some of the many pokestops available.
It is interesting that the demography playing Pokemon Go spans a wide spectrum of people, of many ages and backgrounds. Plus, players help one another out by telling them rare Pokemon locations and taking down gyms together. If you go to Miramar beach, or B R Ambedkar park, you will see players who have probably never met before, chatting like old chums and alerting one another whenever a Pokemon appears.
While it is true that there have been dangerous incidents because of the game internationally, this hasn't fazed players. "There are hundreds of car crashes everyday, but we don't stop driving," argues Sahu. "The same way, just because some people were careless while playing Pokemon Go, it doesn't mean it's inherently dangerous. As long you keep aware of your surroundings and don't do anything stupid, the chances of you getting hurt while playing the game are low."

TOI Goa News

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