It was a Saturday mid-morning, when Malaysian youngsters have just opened their eyes, ready – or maybe not quite ready – to welcome yet another day of what we call ‘life’. Let’s be real, what normal person wakes up before 10 in the morning on a weekend? And there I was, waking up, doing the first thing a teenager would do in the morning: unlocking my phone and checking notifications.

Imagine the gasp I released and the utter wakefulness taking over my brainpower as soon as I saw a text from a friend telling me that Pokémon Go is finally released in Malaysian App Store. Yes, because I am a huge nerd; because Dragonite and Pikachu and Mewtwo; because everyone around the world is playing it and here I was sitting here just waiting for it to be released until that one fateful Saturday morning.

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(My starter Pokémon was Charmander, by the way.) ((I’m Team Mystic.)) (((Why am I telling you these things?)))

It didn’t take two hours for me to come down from Sunway Monash Residence begin my trek along the campus, just to capture Pokémon. And let me be really honest here, I was really wary about being so public and so aimless in wandering because people might judge and ask ‘Who is that crazy chick holding onto her phone like a lifeline wandering around like a lost creature?’. And then I came down to the Library and guess what I saw, I have Pokémon mates!

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Everyone was holding their phone – as many as there will be on a Saturday – everyone had the Pokémon Go app open on their phones; everyone was very avid in the capturing of Pokémon; everyone was jumping in joy when they caught either a Zubat, a Pidgey or a Rattata – little did we know these little monsters would be haunting us for the rest of our Pokémon Go careers.

Come Monday, I was already at Level 6 with 23 Pokémons registered in the Pokédex, and sweet mother of Lord, the Library was teeming with students, holding their phones and chattering about Pokémons and Professor Willow and evolving. I looked to my left and there would be people waving their phones in the air trying to catch GPS signal; I looked to my right and there would be people swiping their forefingers on their phone screens which is the universal sign of Pokémon Go; I looked up and I probably imagined that Dragonite flapping its wing above me due to pure desperation.

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The un-sportiest person you could find, you would probably see at Monash Sports Centre trying to spin for more Pokéballs. You might even find an atheist or someone who does not worship Buddhism standing by the Monash Dato’ Kong trying swipe for items like potions. And let’s be honest, a raise of hands for those who didn’t even know there’s a Dato’ Kong shrine in Monash until Pokémon Go. I’m raising mine right now.

Pokémon Go has, overnight, dominated almost everyone’s life. Wherever you go, you would see six out of ten people with their heads bent towards their phones and aimlessly wandering just for a Pokémon to spawn nearby them. You see people at places you never thought you’d find them at. You find places you didn’t even know exist until you see that it actually is PokéStop.

It is quite difficult to categorize it as a positive or a negative phenomenon.

For one, it’s a really great diet plan because we. Just. Have. To. Hatch. ‘em. Eggs. However, there’s also the fact that we tend to get too easily distracted and by the next second, we might probably smithereens of blood and flesh on the road because catching Pokémons has become our primary priority compared to our safety.

It has also become a social platform, because I kid you not, I managed to make a friend because we were both hunting for Pokémons and we were both complaining about the overloading amount of Zubats around Monash campus. On the other hand, it might also be a making of antisocialism because we have somehow come to ignore our social circle for Pokémons.

It is also the nightmare of all lecturers, because if we’re not careful, we might just fail our studies due to Pokémon Go. But then again, we can learn about GPS navigation and miles calculation from Pokémon Go.

There are always pros and cons to everything we do, including Pokémon Go. It just depends on how well we are able to control ourselves to make a balance between real life and the virtual world of catching monsters with virtual balls. So, my fellow Monashians, enjoy this new addictive Pokémon game as I will, but play safe!

Oh, and have you guys noticed that Monash wifi has blocked access to Pokémon Go? Dirty move, Monash, dirty move.

– Nicole


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