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Fad on the go, poking fun and power of sharing

Pokemon Go is losing players, but those here are still going strong

POKEMON GO-ING NOWHERE YET

Some say the Pokemon Go fad is fading. And there have been numerous articles in recent weeks saying that the user base is falling fast. Around 15 million users have reportedly given it up since its mid-July launch.

Despite the drop in global numbers, the craze seems very much alive in Singapore, thanks to a contingent of devoted players who have taken their passion online.

There are, for instance, several public chats on Telegram that concentrate on where to hunt for Pokemons. There is one for the north-east of Singapore, one for the south-west, and others for particular "hot spots" such as Hougang, Changi Village, Marina Bay Sands and Woodlands Waterfront Park, which are rife with rare creatures.

Thousands of messages are sent through these chats each day. Those new to the game might find the deluge of information intimidating. But many of those on the chats are happy to give a helping hand.

There has also been a plethora of Twitter accounts set up to alert users when elusive Pokemons such as the dinosaur-like Lapras and the winged rarity Aerodactyl appear.

One such account that has proven to be reliable is Epic SG Pokemon (@EpicSGPokemon). A typical message reads like this: "(QUEENSTOWN) Aerodactyl until 11:32:45PM at 460 Alexandra Rd."


Mr Brandon Tan is one enterprising Pokemon Go player who has taken to Facebook to promote his services. In a minute-long video posted last Sunday, Mr Tan is seen using multiple devices to play the game. PHOTO: BRANDON TAN/FACEBOOK

It is accompanied by a Google map link, and typically gives its users up to 15 minutes or so to rush to the location. That is probably a key reason why one might see a congregation of people and vehicles at an obscure spot for no rhyme or reason.


Mr Guay Chong Kian’s cartoon showing a cockroach family, with luggage in tow, in front of the National Arts Council bin centre. PHOTO: GUAY CHONG KIAN

Apps such as Go Radar for iPhone have also been popular, although Twitter seems to be the platform of choice when it comes to getting the latest information.

Several enterprising players, such as Mr Brandon Tan, have taken to Facebook to promote their services. In a minute-long video posted last Sunday, Mr Tan is seen using multiple devices to play the game.

"So far the maximum I'm able to handle is five accounts but four is just nice and rather comfortable for me to play for around eight to 12 hours," he said in a post that been seen more than 160,000 times.

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Mr Tan, who stations himself in Hougang, charges $25 an hour for his services, which start at 6pm and end at 6am.

It is entirely plausible that Pokemon Go might have just a handful of users in a year's time. But, for now, the game has brought strangers, whose paths would never have crossed otherwise, closer together.

NOT THAT SERIOUS AFTER ALL

Mr Guay Chong Kian, 45, is a creative partner of the advertising agency Goodfellas.

But when time permits, he does a bit of doodling and posts his work on a Facebook page which has gained a fair amount of traction in recent weeks. The inspiration for the page, he says, cropped up a year ago after he watched a movie about a group of cartoonists who draw for the The New Yorker magazine.

His page - SemiSerious - was set up after he received overwhelming response online for a cartoon on the controversy surrounding the National Arts Council bin centre.

The Auditor-General's Office of Singapore had flagged the council for the high fees paid to consultants ($410,000) for the refuse collection point, which cost another $470,000.

Mr Guay's cartoon shows a family of cockroaches standing before the bin centre, luggage in tow. The caption reads: "Honey, NAC built us a very expensive home."

Since then, he has gone on to poke fun at several other national issues including the Circle Line delays, the haze and the Zika virus.

Most of his posts have gathered hundreds of likes, comments and shares. "I assume it resonates with the audience and that is very encouraging," he told The Sunday Times.

Although the page, set up last month, is still in its nascent stages, it has already attracted thousands of fans.

"Most Singaporeans are quite a serious bunch," he said. "I'm hoping that through these satirical cartoons, we can learn to laugh at ourselves a little and, just like what the page name suggests, don't be too serious. Semi will do."

SHARE MORE, REMEMBER BETTER

People tend to remember events better after they have related their experience to someone else. So it may not be that surprising then, that sharing personal stories on social media might actually boost your memory.

A recent study, done by Cornell University on 66 undergraduates, suggests that the best way for users to remember personal experiences is to put them online.

"Social media - blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and others alike - provide an important outlet for us to recall memories, in the public space, and share with other people," says the study's lead author, Professor Wang Qi of the College of Human Ecology.

The act of posting on social media plays a vital role in the construction of "self", adds Prof Wang. Another point that reinforces memory recall is how interactive elements on social media, such as being able to like or re-share a post, "shape how we view our experiences, how we view ourselves".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 11, 2016, with the headline 'Fad on the go, poking fun and power of sharing'. Print Edition | Subscribe