It started as an ethnological experiment. I wanted to understand the bewildering fever that had gripped adults in the US and Europe, rendering them into mobile-wielding zombies hunting for imaginary monsters superimposed onto the real world.
The first week when Pokémon GO was launched in Hong Kong, it was as though many of its inhabitants had been possessed. People were stricken with sudden paralysis mid-walk, exacerbating what was already a congested sidewalk traffic situation.
It was amusing to see adults walking en masse during lunch hour around my office area, concentrating hard as they flicked their fingers across their mobile phone screens. Static crowds gathered around innocuous venues indicated the presence of a gym or a concentration of PokéStops flooded with lures and pink petals.
Suddenly the trams became crowded, in spite of the sweltering summer heat, as people took advantage of the lumbering vehicle to traverse Hong Kong Island in search of the creatures, quickly collect goodies at PokéStops and hatch eggs with minimal physical exertion. All that for just HK$2.30 for up to 10 kilometres. What a bargain!
I got a kick from overlaying Pokémons in all sorts of situations, from AB petting a Weedle to having a Caterpie work out on a treadmill, and the poisonous Gloom taking cover amongst villain hitters under a flyover.
The addiction crept up on me. What had began out of curiousity soon occupied almost every idle moment.
I was on a quest: Gotta catch ‘em all.
I wanted to catch all 147* Pokémons without going to a gym or buying any supplementary items. One might say that I was a half-hearted Pokémon trainer. Whatever.
At least I was ethical, unlike some players who paid someone to catch Pokémons on their behalf. I spotted some enterprising individuals who were simultaneously playing the game on two phones.
After weeks of hiding behind my “ethnological experiment” excuse, I conceded that spending almost two hours a day catching pocket monsters wherever I was – be it at home, in a supermarket or even when hiking – meant that I was addicted to Pokémon GO.
The first step to cure an addiction – according to the 12-step programme proposed by the Alcoholics Anonymous – is to be honest with oneself.
Fortunately, I didn’t need any supreme power or higher being to save me from my addiction. I was miraculously cured when our long-awaited shipment finally arrived from Brussels. Having those 50-plus boxes descend upon our tiny apartment saved the day.
I suppose that PokémonGO, like other addictive substances and habits, filled a (temporary) void in my life.
What is your personal experience with Pokémon GO? I promise I won’t judge 🙂
* I have registered 80 types of Pokémons so far, which means I’m more than half way towards catching ’em all!