Pokemon Go, Go, Going: Why This Mobile Game Is Still Popular with Silvers Seven Years Later

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Pokemon Go, Go, Going: Why This Mobile Game Is Still Popular with Silvers Seven Years Later
Chu Chee Chin is siting at a crowded table at the 313@somerset’s fifth-floor food court.
The 51-year-old administrative manager’s table is not cluttered with plates and bowls, but a mess of smartphones — a minimum of three to a person — Nintendo Switch consoles, cables and power banks.
In front of him and his friends, a queue is quickly forming.

"We have to get them to disperse quickly and call them one by one."

His group shoos them away — though not in time to avoid an awkward conversation with mall security, who are wondering what the fuss is about. It is difficult to explain, but they talk their way out of it.
Chee Chin and his friends will spend the next three to four hours connecting their devices to strangers’ phones one at a time.
The strangers get a special in-game item. Chee Chin and his friends get nothing.
Welcome to the world of Pokemon GO, an augmented-reality mobile game that’s captivated the world since its release in 2016.
Its premise is seductively simple — find and capture fictional critters, or Pokemon, in significant real-world locations.
All one needs to play is a mobile phone and a pair of feet. It has universal appealing for gamers of all ages, even those unfamiliar with the beloved Japanese franchise.
Pokemon Go, Go, Going: Why This Mobile Game Is Still Popular with Silvers Seven Years Later - Playing on bus
Catching Wooper on a bus, Chee CHin
The numbers speak for themselves. At its peak, Pokemon GO had 232 million players. It has racked up more than US$6 billion (S$8 billion) in revenue over seven years.
While its player base shrank to around 71 million players worldwide in 2021, what remains is a strong and consistent following who want nothing more than to keep playing.
Just ask the 18,000 players who attended last November’s Pokemon GO Safari Zone event in Gardens by the Bay, featuring hard-to-get critters, or the 110,000 members in Singapore’s largest Pokemon GO Facebook group.
The dozen Singaporean gamers Silverstreak interviewed at Chee Chin’s event agreed that a good portion of this local fanbase are silvers.
Pokemon Go, Go, Going: Why This Mobile Game Is Still Popular with Silvers Seven Years Later - Golden lure previous event
The crowd at another informal Pokemon GO event in Marine Crescent.
This was corroborated by the general age profile of the crowd present that Saturday. About half of the 30-odd participants was in their fifties and up. The remainder of the group comprised working adults and some younger players.
Most players interviewed say that the skew came about as younger players dropped off the game over the years, while older players stayed on.
The San Francisco-based gaming company behind Pokemon GO, Niantic, declined to provide specific population data that could confirm the demographic of Singaporean players.
Nonetheless, an interview Ed Wu, veteran Niantic developer and vice president of its most popular game, gave to Eurogamer provides some insight into their player base.
Intuitive gameplay
This persistent popularity with silvers could stem from Pokemon GO’s simplicity compared to its peers in the mobile gaming market. Most gameplay actions, whether that be catching critters or collecting items at so-called Pokestops, can be completed with just a flick of the finger.

"That’s why so many of them play [on] multiple [phones] at a time."

Irene Ong, also at the gathering, is one such player. She swiped, tapped and spun, juggling between four devices at once. She used to have seven.
Pokemon Go, Go, Going: Why This Mobile Game Is Still Popular with Silvers Seven Years Later - Multiple phones
This is not an unusual sight for Pokemon GO players, as several others at the event were also playing the game on multiple devices.
The 59-year-old is an avid fan of the game who travelled to Taiwan in 2019 specifically to attend a Pokemon GO event.
Like many mobile applications, Pokemon GO works on a free-to-play model with purchasable powerups.
Getting out and about
Another aspect of Pokemon Go’s gameplay is its promotion of movement. Gamers must clock steps to hatch eggs and visit locations physically to reap rewards.
This makes playing the game feel more enriching, says Catherine Chang, a former researcher at the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities (a research institute in the Singapore University of Technology and Design).
She conducted 11 one-to-one interviews and one group interview with players in Bukit Merah and Tiong Bahru as part of informal fieldwork for her Master’s thesis in 2019.
The general age profile of her interviewees were generally “50 or older”, with the oldest participant clocking in at 83 then.
Pokemon Go, Go, Going: Why This Mobile Game Is Still Popular with Silvers Seven Years Later - Sandshrew
Handicapped silvers on wheelchairs or mobility scooters can still enjoy Pokemon GO, provided they are not travelling at high speeds.
While Niantic does not share official speed limits, it is generally accepted that the limits are to prevent players driving while playing.
Pokemon Go, Go, Going: Why This Mobile Game Is Still Popular with Silvers Seven Years Later - Pokestops

"Every morning, I play this game with my friends. It is a good game as it forces me to walk around. I treat it like exercise for my legs and my brain."

Cheow, another retiree at the event, enjoys the exploratory nature of Pokemon GO.
Safety in Singapore
Singapore is itself a conducive environment for silver Pokemon GO players, as it is safe and well-connected.

"But it's not just Singapore - I remember visiting Taipei in 2018, and there was a huge Pokemon GO community there as well."

She posits that “dense, well-connected cities with good public transport networks” are ideal for the game as it facilitates the gathering of large groups around high-density hubs.
Pokemon Go, Go, Going: Why This Mobile Game Is Still Popular with Silvers Seven Years Later - Golden lures in action
An example in Singapore is Chee Chin’s gathering spot of choice at 313@somerset, which he says is surrounded by several Pokestops and gyms (where players can battle each other).
This is compared to a country like, say, Malaysia, where interactable elements are located much further apart. Chris, a 34-year-old software engineer from Malaysia says, “The profile of Malaysian players is slightly younger – they are mostly in their forties, as they would usually drive and play. It is not as safe to walk around with your phone there.”
Making friends
Most of the silver gamers interviewed by SilverStreak agree that the love for cute animated Pokemon — a franchise that began in 1996 — plays a minor role in holding their interest.
Pokemon Go, Go, Going: Why This Mobile Game Is Still Popular with Silvers Seven Years Later - Pokemon GO kakis
Chee Chin, pictured with some of his Pokemon GO kakis.
Instead, it is mostly social connections that kept them coming back.

"It can help pull neighbours and friends [together from] everywhere, including overseas players. It can be a talking point for colleagues too. It brings people together."

Catherine concurs, pointing to the “‘kampung spirit‘ that Pokemon GO was able to help foster”.
Her parents are both keen players with “all these friends” around the neighbourhood. “When I asked how they knew all these people, they said Pokemon GO,” she says.
Tips for new Pokemon GO trainers
Getting steps in during your morning walk isn’t the only way to play Pokemon GO. Bring your phone with you when you’re out exploring or taking a long trip on the bus.
This will increase the number of Pokestops you encounter, meaning more powerups and therefore more Pokemon. You cannot use this tip to hatch eggs faster though, unless the bus is travelling very slowly.
Gifts are one of the items you can find at Pokestops. Just like in real life, it isn’t good form to open a gift yourself. Send it on to someone else instead — they might even return the favour!
On that note, making friends is vital to progressing in this game. They’re a source of gifts as mentioned above, as well as battle companions for raids and gyms. They also make the game a lot more fun.
On the other hand, getting an extra phone or two is also useful if you’d rather perform team tasks solo (using multiple accounts).
Spinning a Poke ball — the device you use to capture Pokemon — before you throw it nets you more experience points (which you use to level up) and a higher chance of nabbing the critter. It also ups the style factor by a significant margin, which never hurts.
You’ll want to turn off augmented reality mode once the novelty of seeing Pokemon frolic in ‘real life’ on your phone wears off. It drains your battery fast, while making the game more difficult for little payoff.

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SilverStreak Editorial Team

SilverStreak Editorial Team

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