Pokemon Go trek draws 400

The mass walk yesterday started from East Coast Park and continued for about 8km to Gardens by the Bay and Marina Barrage. The route passed 53 PokeStops and eight "gyms", the organiser said.
The mass walk yesterday started from East Coast Park and continued for about 8km to Gardens by the Bay and Marina Barrage. The route passed 53 PokeStops and eight "gyms", the organiser said.ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

The participants of a mass walk starting from East Coast Park yesterday had their sights not on the finish line, but the screens of their mobile devices.

Close to 400 of them walked 8km from the park to Gardens by the Bay and Marina Barrage, as they kept a lookout for virtual monsters popping up on their screens.

They were taking part in Pokemon Go SG Mass Walk, an event targeted at players of the augmented reality mobile game that made its debut here two weeks ago.

Players can hunt, capture, battle and train virtual creatures called Pokemon, who appear on the screen as if they are in the same real world location as the players.

Organiser Ummar Hasim, 29, a marketing specialist, said he was inspired by similar events in Australia and started preparations to get approval for the walk a month ago.

 

The route passes by 53 PokeStops, where players can collect virtual items, and eight "gyms", where they can battle their Pokemon virtually, he said

"We didn't know when the game would be released here, so I had to submit permit requests for two different dates," he said. He also worked with Facebook groups and recruited 25 volunteer event marshals. The event has no sponsors.

While the game has attracted criticism for generating noise and litter, he considers its overall impact positive as it encourages children and retirees, who might otherwise remain at home, to go for a walk.

Yesterday's walk attracted young children who were there with their families, as well as couples and groups of friends. "It's a chance to exercise with my family," said Mr Kelvin Loo, 39, a lecturer, who was with his wife and eight-year-old son, a fan of the game.

Others, like Mr Ricky Lee, 27, who is self-employed, dressed up with two friends as members of Team Rocket, the game's villains.

"It's fun, and a way to socialise," he said of the walk. "Pokemon is a childhood game we used to play... Rarely do you see gaming events in Singapore that appeal to so many people."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2016, with the headline 'Pokemon Go trek draws 400'. Print Edition | Subscribe