The augmented reality game has found a surprising fan base among Singapore’s retirees.


73-year-old retiree Nona Goh was first introduced to Pokemon Go in late September.

Her 7-year-old grandson Joe had been pestering her to take him out to catch the virtual monsters since the Niantic game became available in Singapore in August. So after she had her daughter download the app onto her mobile phone, she started joining her grandson’s Pokémon-hunting adventures.

Mdm Goh has since gone from a Pokémon noob to a Pokémon master. She now has 135 out of 145 Pokémon species on her Pokédex.

Madam Goh's collection of her favorite Pokémon. Photo courtesy of: Charlene Koh
Madam Goh’s collection of her favorite Pokémon. Photo courtesy of: Charlene Koh

Her fondness for the game also outlasted her grandson’s.

“Now I play a lot more than he does,” Mdm Goh said, adding that she spends about 4 to 5 hours a day on the game. “He started earlier than me so he got bored of it faster.”

“It also helps that I don’t have school or homework,” she said with a laugh.

What keeps Mdm Goh going is the thrill of encountering new Pokémon species and watching her collection grow.

With only 10 more species left to capture and evolve, she’s also set her sights on conquering the gyms near her home in Little India with her friends – retirees who’re similarly introduced to the game by their children or grandchildren.

“We joined the trend late so all the gyms have been taken over by stronger players,” said one of her friends, 62-year-old Jimmy Lee. “So our current aim to is fully take over a gym and make it our own,” he added.

The group has also been frequently meeting at Pokémon hot-spots like VivoCity and Marina Bay Sands.

These “spawning grounds” were previously packed with young “trainers”. Now, the young at heart seem to be taking their place.

The UrbanWire recently visited VivoCity on a Saturday evening and saw many elderly trainers glued to their screens as their grandchildren frolicked around in the open space.

Pokemon GO taking the App world by storm. Photo courtesy of: Survey Monkey
Pokemon GO taking the App world by storm. Photo courtesy of: Survey Monkey

Pokémon Go has taken the world by storm since its launch in the US, Australia and New Zealand in July. It’s quickly become the most popular game in the US mobile gaming history, and is still outperforming Candy Crush, Clash of Clans, Words with Friends and other favorites in terms of monthly active users.

The game, however, is losing steam with some younger players like 18-year-old student Brian Lee.

“I played it everyday for a month or so when it first came out”, he said, “but I kept encountering the same Pokémon over and over again, so it was getting quite boring.”

Terence Fang, 19, also felt the same. “It’s gotten really dull. The only reason I’m still playing the game is to prepare for generation 2. I’m waiting for them (Niantic) to add trainer-to-trainer battle in the game.”

Niantic has recently released the last of its Gen 1 Pokémon, the elusive, shape-shifting Ditto, to spice things up. It’s also hinted at the addition of 100 Gen 2 Pokémon in the near future.

Offline, many Pokémon-related activities are in full swing.

Pokémon Research Exhibition at SEA Aquarium. Photo by: Charlene Koh
Pokémon Research Exhibition at S.E.A. Aquarium. Photo by: Charlene Koh

One such event is the Pokémon Research Exhibition at Resorts World Sentosa, which will run until Jan 2, 2017. Held for the first time outside of Japan, the exhibition invites visitors to test their Pokémon knowledge and study the species classification.

Starting Nov 24, a pop-up Pokémon-themed café is also back for the second time at Bugis Junction’s Everything with Fries.

These events do help to keep the Pokémon momentum going, said Brian Lee. While he’s not been an active trainer for a while, he plans to join the long queue to dine at the pop-up café.

“… maybe I’ll play the game again while I’m in the queue,” the 18-year-old said. “Then I can prepare for the new Pokémon that I’ve heard are set to come out soon.”