House debates govt response to game

Pokemon Go players seen at Block 401 Hougang Ave 10.
Pokemon Go players seen at Block 401 Hougang Ave 10.PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Parliament House is an iconic PokeStop and, yesterday, two MPs held up the popular Pokemon Go app as an example of how technology and media have merged to create new entertainment forms.

Speaking at the debate on a Bill to form the Info-communications Media Development Authority, Mr Darryl David (Ang Mo Kio GRC) noted that the line between digital content and real life is being blurred, and some MPs "might have evolved into pretty good Pokemon hunters".

Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim said he had not played the game, but the police's advisory to players is "about the right response at this point in time".

Mr David and Nominated MP Ganesh Rajaram raised the issue of regulation on games like Pokemon Go that blur the line between the real and digital worlds. The game allows people to visit PokeStops tied to real-life locations and collect free items that they use to catch virtual creatures called Pokemon on their smartphones.

Mr Rajaram said the Media Development Authority's response to the game was in a "calibrated, prudent manner". The game also brings people together, "particularly when they are exchanging tips on where and how to catch a Snorlax or Exeggutor", he added, referring to popular Pokemon.

Dr Yaacob said the Government had to be mindful about "not unnecessarily dampening the spirit of innovation that is so critical to the development of innovative products and services in this sector".

"The integration of the IDA Labs, the Games Solution Centre and Creators' Space is precisely intended to help develop exciting ideas such as the next Pokemon Go," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2016, with the headline 'House debates govt response to game'. Print Edition | Subscribe