Posted on July 15, 2016

Pokémon GO, a new smartphone game which combines GPS and phone camera for a real world adventure, is taking Qatar by storm even before its release in the region. Gamers are seen roaming around familiar places in Doha, glued on their smartphone screens to catch mysterious creatures called Pokémon — which appear as if near them — and train them to battle.

The augmented reality (AR) game uses real life surroundings as map, making it an immersive game which attracts many game fanatics which cut through various segments as the game was a spin-off of the Japanese game and anime series some 20 years ago. “Playing the game brings back a lot of memories of my childhood. Pokémon was one of my favourite anime series to watch on TV when I was young,” said Rod Marquez, an engineer by trade who could not help but turn nostalgic upon learning of the new game. Katara and The Pearl-Qatar are two of the locations Marquez frequents in his quest to catch the little creatures. 

Pokémon GO was one of the top Twitter trends in Qatar and inundating other social media sites yesterday. Some fans created social media accounts dedicated to the game, for people to interact and share experiences. Pokémon GO Qatar’s Facebook and Twitter accounts have generated over 1,000 followers in a matter of days. Screenshots of Pokémon caught in the car, kitchen, malls, Souq Waqif, Qatar University, the Corniche and Education City were among those posted by followers. “My feed has been all about Pokémon GO in the past few days,” said Fatma Abdullah, who called the new game a phenomenon for the popularity it generated in so short a time.

News of people meeting accidents while hooked on their smartphones playing the game had been all over after its limited launch in the US, New Zealand, Australia, Germany and the UK which saw the game on top of the most downloaded apps. Pokémon fans in Qatar have found ways to download the game by changing their app store location or via Android Application Package (APK) version. Despite the downside of the game, people believe in the positive effects the game has on players. “The beauty of the game lies in the fact that it brings people together as well as it encourages them to explore their surroundings,” said Abdullah.

Many people have shown interest in the first Pokémon walk happening today which Pokémon Go Qatar has announced on Twitter and Facebook. “It makes people more active, going places to catch Pokémon. Those who rarely go out now have reason to walk around near or far to find the creatures making them familiar with the place at the same time exercise,” said Marquez. Some people however have voiced concerns on accidents it may cause to motorists playing while driving and pedestrians hooked on the game while crossing roads. To avoid accidents, a message appears on screen reminding the user to be alert at all times when accessing the app.

source: The Peninsula