Pokémon Go(es) To Singapore - Sights And Sounds

Just this weekend, Pokémon Go was launched in Singapore and many of our surrounding ASEAN nations.

Facebook feeds have been flooded with Pokéfans' postings of their initial catches as well as amused (and disgruntled) bystanders' photos of Pokémon hunters gathering in seemingly odd locations in large groups.

Though I grew up during the Pokémon era, I never warmed towards it. I never watched the cartoons, played the games or bothered with it. All I was familiar with (due to inescapable intensive marketing) was perhaps the most famous of all Pokémon - Pikachu. Even then, I found its limited vocabulary rather more annoying than adorable.

I could have easily dismissed this new game as an attempt at reviving a dying franchise, or simply the game's developers trying to make money out of nothing from undiscerning fans. Its explosive popularity was also something that bothered me. I have found that I tend to stay away from over-popular products, perhaps in aid of my aversion towards noisy queues and rabid enthusiasts.

However, I decided to just give it a go (no pun intended). After all, someone once said that to understand a man, you have to walk a mile in his shoes.

I wanted to know what the craze was all about and why people can't seem to put their phones down. A little psychological analysis was in order and since I couldn't interview fans (nor would they bother giving me any time, as they'll be busy catching their digital creatures), I figured that I would simply play the game and analyse my responses to it.

At first glance, the game seemed straightforward enough:

1) Pick up Pokéballs from Pokéstops, which are often landmarks or places of interest.

2) Search for wild Pokémon.

3) Throw Pokéballs at Pokémon to try and capture it.

There are, of course, many more aspects to the game, but this is the most important one. Without capturing wild Pokémon, a trainer (that's the player) could not advance in level or ever gain enough powerful allies to do battle in gyms (also usually places of interest or important buildings). He/she would also be unable to get enough resources to upgrade or 'evolve' their Pokémon.

Having interacted with a number of Pokémon Go players, I noticed a few types:

1) Collect 'em all types

These hunters just want to complete their collection. They aren't particularly interested in taking over gyms of competing. It's more of a personal achievement for them. Many players fall under this category.

2) The PvP types

These are the ones who love to compare with other players, always desire to upgrade their Pokémon or capture better ones. They constantly aspire to take over gyms and enjoy the player vs. player (PvP) aspects of the game. 

3) Casual types

These players are just playing for kicks. They aren't particularly into the game or want to go hunting for hours. They whip out the game as and when they feel like it and just want to have a little fun. The social aspect of the game is more important to them than the actual game itself.

Within each type, there are some sub-categories, of course, and these are gamer types that exist in almost any game.

While I was out hunting, though I was often in public transport going from place to place over the weekend for non-Pokémon-Go-related activities, I found avid fans of the game almost everywhere. They were, as reported in news articles, staring down at their phones, occasionally stopping in their tracks and sometimes squealing names of Pokémon they found. It was rather amusing to witness.

At Pokéstops with lures, I saw crowds of people milling around, engaged in their phones. My only concern at these places was that many of them just stood in the middle of the walkway or blocked the route with their bicycles/scooters. This was rather inconsiderate. At least step aside so other people can pass.

Naturally, the media seized upon this opportunity to highlight these negative behaviours, along with those of people walking along the streets, sometimes late at night, oblivious to their surroundings, some not even bothering to watch for vehicles properly, others trespassing on private property.

I did witness behaviour like this, though not the trespassing. I might even have been guilty of a couple of counts of obstruction myself.

But I also saw the positive side of the game. It got people to go outdoors, friends (even strangers sometimes) to meet up and talk to each other in real life (instead of just over the phone and social media), families to go on walks and spend time together, hunters helping each other to spot the more elusive creatures.

It wasn't as bad as the media painted it to be. Sure, it looked terrible from a bystander's point of view. I even heard real-life comments from non-players along the lines of 'This is crazy! Look at all these <insert adjective here> people!' and 'I can't believe this is happening to our society.'

I would have been one of those bystanders and possibly made comments like that, but I decided to learn more about it as an insider instead of an outsider. In my next post, I'll break down the mental processes that I went through while I played the game and why I think the game is so immensely successful.

Until my next post, Happy Hunting!

Yes, I know you can get it at the start, but I didn't want to run around for the first 10 minutes of playing the game just to avoid the initial 3.

Yes, I know you can get it at the start, but I didn't want to run around for the first 10 minutes of playing the game just to avoid the initial 3.





Missing the Gems and Jewellery Show in Bangkok

A year ago, on this date, I was in Bangkok for the gems and jewellery show. This year, unfortunately, due to the immense number of projects and assignments, I cannot be there.

One of the things I miss about the show is the sheer diversity of people and products that it brings together. Although Singapore has its own gem show, it is tiny compared to the one in Thailand.

It was through that show that I started getting ideas to start my own projects in gems. I saw the possibilities and opportunities that the industry holds and how much it could improve in Singapore.

If the gemstone industry takes off in Singapore, it could be a highly lucrative one. That's what I want to work towards!

Well, even though I can't be there this time, I'd like to be around next year.

Here's to a great year ahead!

My Wish for Singapore in 2016

Having seen so many people writing on large white plastic balls for the Wishing Sphere Project, I wondered what I would write on one of them if I ever got round to it. I suppose the following might be adequate:

I wish that Singapore will grow from strength to strength in the coming year, that we, as a nation, will unite against threats to our security, economy, and way of life.

I wish for Singaporeans to be more appreciative of what they have, to be more introspective and think more critically, to be more others-oriented than self-obsessed. 

I wish that we will remember that the world observes who we are and what we do, that we will lend a helping hand to our neighbouring nations, and that we will continue to be a strong, positive influence in the global community.

May we be always proud to call this land our home.

Water Pour

Gem Hunting Season

The Singapore Jewellery and Gem Fair arrives on our shores on 22 Oct til 25 Oct! 4 days of sparkle at Marina Bay Sands.

It'll be a great opportunity to meet and catch up with some of my gem dealing friends from around the region. Hopefully, I'll be able to make a few good deals with them.

On my trips to gem-selling countries, I've met other gem buyers who drive prices down to ridiculously low points, refusing to budge even on a five-dollar difference. Personally, I feel this to be very unnecessary. The seller is trying to earn a living, and five dollars isn't going to make or break the bank for the buyer, so why not let the seller have it?

A number of these buyers are re-sellers, who, after paying rock-bottom prices, jack the prices up tremendously before selling them in their home markets. Of course, it is perfectly normal business practice to increase prices when you re-sell, but it needs to be a reasonable margin.

I have found that gem-buying requires patience and tact. Once you build a good rapport with the seller, the prices automatically come down. I rarely try to drive prices too much lower than the asking price. Of course, I need to know the rough value of the gem I'm looking at, and that takes experience.

True, I may end up paying slightly higher prices than the hard-bargaining buyer at the next stall, but I believe that we live in a world of abundance, and not one of lack. I believe that both buyer and seller can mutually benefit, and one cannot succeed without the other.