By Peter Soh
It is now the latest hype among the young and old. Since the launch of Pokemon Go in Malaysia last Saturday, you can see people lurking around residential areas to adults hitting the streets on bikes to hunt down the infamous character.
This has also made Malacca’s famous Jonker Street even more lively as everyone is spotted exploring the area with phones in hand.
It is not without reason that Jonker Street makes a hot spot for Pokemon players. Pokemon Go is designed in such a way that many of the historical monuments and religious places have to be identified by the player in order to collect Poke balls (used to catch the Pokemons) and gifts.
Located at the heart of Malacca, Jonker Street is connected to numerous historical and iconic attractions such as the Malacca River, Red Tower, temples, museums and many precious pre-war Peranakan houses. The game certainly needs one to be present in that particular area if one wishes to increase the chances of meeting the Pokemons (in fact, I caught quite a number of exquisite Pokemon species there), and it adds fun to one’s travel experience, even to the locals because it guides people into discovering some of the hidden treasures that are often overlooked.
Initially I had little interest but my mum was surprisingly interested and volunteered to drive me around to play the game. I was moved by her enthusiasm and we combed all the residential areas and spent a good few hours at Jonker Street.
Along the way, my mum shared childhood stories of my sister and I, when we collected Pokemon stickers and followed the TV series every week without fail. Mum recounted memories of the time when we went to the grocery store, stood in front of the “egg machines” and fished out our 50 cents to collect the Pokemon rubber toy. The excitement of getting new toys was something my sister and I looked forward to and we always saved the little pocket money that our parents gave us to spend on the “egg machine.”
The four-hour journey of catching Pokemons created a shared experience for both my mum and I. I even got a little emotional thinking about it because as I grow older, I spend less time at home and precious moments like these are hard to come by.
The hype of playing Pokemon Go has been criticised in the media. There have been reports of people being involved in accidents or some were shot for trespassing restricted areas. Of course, there is a need to be safe and to play responsibly.
To me, as long as Pokemon Go does not turn into a addictive game, it can be enjoyable for the whole family who hope to spend time together.