BANGKOK — Snorlax was found napping in Lat Phrao. Charmander was captured at Chit Lom. Over on Silom Road, some Pokemon trainers dedicated their Wednesday lunch break to capture a Bulbasaur, in hopes to one day catch’em all.
It was a brief frenzy of Pokemon Go several hours before the game was blocked everywhere other than Australia and New Zealand. Whether the door to beta test the new game was intentionally left open to Bangkok trainers or not, talk about it successfully hijacked social media feeds when it came out Wednesday. No doubt, ‘90s kids were behind it
“Every kid’s dream was to be a Pokemon trainer,” said Peera Vorapreechapanich, 28, who entered Saint Louis Hospital near his office to hunt a Pokemon inside.
The Japanese game that conquered the world at the millennium’s turn has returned again, but this time into the actual streets through augmented reality, or AR, the technology which can lay visual information over the real-world environment.
Peera said a motorcycle taxi beeped a horn at him once when he was trying to throw his Poke Ball to capture a Pokemon (That’s how it works).
“But come on, I was standing on the sidewalk!” he said.
Online people were sharing their experiences using the hashtag #PokemonGO.
— top. (@FreeverAR) July 6, 2016
If the game feels similar to Ingress, a previous AR game that was widely played in the capital – instead of capturing Pokemon players hacked nodes – that’s because it’s built on the same bones by the same developer, San Francisco-based Niantic, Inc.
But unlike Ingress which attracts more hardcore geeks, Peera said Pokemon is accessible and familiar enough to attract the masses and will undoubtedly be a huge hit when it officially launches in a few months.
“It’s a game that both men and women have shared experiences of before,” he said.
That same nostalgia is shared by the admin of a Thai Pokemon page who also grew up in the world of the fictional creatures.
“This year is the 20th anniversary since Pokemon was created,” said Kitibodee Ruknaprasert. “It’s not surprising everyone is waiting for it.”
Though Kitbodee believed Pokemon and AR is a perfect match, another trainer said it might not suit Thailand in the long run.
“I think it will be a fad in the early stage,” said Admin K of Pokémon Go Thailand FanClub. “This game requires walking outside to look for Pokemon, which doesn’t really go well with Thailand’s weather,” he said with a laugh.
Despite the heat, AR could be a good bridge to get the gamers, who are often glued to chairs and screens to get out and interact with the environment they live in.
Peera said it could make his next travel more interesting if he could explore the new area by trying to catch Pokemon.
“After playing this game, I think I will change the route I walk from home to office everyday,” he said. “Every soi has different Pokemon waiting to be caught.”
— IcedLatte Aize (@IcedLatte_Aize) July 6, 2016
— IGN @ Gamescom (@IGN) July 6, 2016