Pokemon Go, a new game for mobile phones, has besides entertaining players, given many Qatar residents an exciting opportunity to walk and explore, both indoor and outdoor locations.
Speaking to Gulf Times on Thursday, a staff from an electronic and entertainment shop at a major mall in Doha said he saw a large number of children and young people going around the mall trying to catch ‘virtual creatures’ using their smartphones.
“The game, which is also becoming highly popular here, was designed to encourage players to walk, explore various locations, meet new people and make friends, socialise, and trade with some Pokemon items,” he said.
Some residents shared their experiences and pictures on a Facebook page created by a group called Pokemon Go Qatar saying they caught a lot of ‘creatures’ in certain locations such as Ras Abu Aboud, the Doha Corniche, and Aljazeera petrol station, among others.
The group is organising a Pokemon hangout on Friday at a certain location where lots of Pokemon ‘creatures’ are appearing, some members suggested the location being Katara – the Cultural Village.
Public parks and landmarks across the country, including Al Khor and Al Thakira, are also expected to become popular hangouts of different groups and individual players.
According to the staff, the Nintendo-owned game is not yet available in Qatar but a lot of players like him were able to download it for free on iOS by creating a new iTunes (US) account.
Asked about the date of launching in the Middle East, he said he has no idea but the operator may only need a new server to host all the players in the country.
He noted that Pokemon players like him experience some minor glitches in playing the game, possibly due to the surge in the number of users.
“Right now, the server in the US maybe hosting all of us here and those in other countries such as the Philippines, so sometimes it does not work,” he added. “As far as I know, it may take some time before it will be available on Android because of some ‘leak’ issues.”
According to some online reports such as www.vox.com, Pokemon Go uses a mobile phone’s GPS and clock to detect a player’s location and make virtual characters “appear” nearby (on the phone screen) as players move from one place to another.
The idea is to encourage players to "roam around the real world to catch Pokémon in the game,” an interaction dubbed as “augmented reality.”
“What’s more, the game does a lot to make you explore your real-world environment at different times. For example, if you go out to a park, you’ll probably see more grass or bug-type Pokémon. If you go near a lake or ocean, you’ll pick up more water types. And if you go out at night, you'll see more nocturnal fairy and ghost types,” the website added.
“So you will see many people trying to catch and collect as many Pokemon as possible at different locations to level up,” the staff said. “Once they reach a certain level in the game, they start to train Pokemon to prepare for battles at gyms,” the staff explained.
The website noted that the first generation Pokemon game started with 151 ‘creatures’ but was increased to 720. "In Pokemon GO, only the original 151 are available.”
The game also established ‘PokeStops’ in several locations such as malls, restaurants, public parks, and other landmarks such as the Doha Corniche, among others – a reason for many players to travel from one location to another.
The staff said players can get several items from these PokeStops for free that can enhance and make their Pokemon stronger and ready for battles.
Otherwise, they will be prompted to buy these items using credit cards to upgrade their Pokemon collections, similar to ‘coins’ or ‘golds’ used by other popular online games in upgrading their characters or ‘heroes,’ and infrastructures.
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