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Vietnam youth feeling the burn to ‘catch ‘em all’

Friday, July 08, 2016, 16:45 GMT+7

An augmented reality mobile game featuring the famous Japanese cartoon Pokémon is taking the world by storm and Vietnam is definitely no exception.

Though Vietnam is not among the short list of countries where the Niantic-developed viral game is available for iOS and Android users, gamers are sharing tips on how to get Pokémon GO installed on Vietnamese devices.

Built on Niantic’s Real World Gaming Platform, Pokémon GO uses real locations to encourage players to search the Poké world in order to disocver ‘catch ‘em all.’

“[The game] allows you to find and catch more than a hundred species of Pokémon as you explore your surroundings,” the app creator writes on their website.

Pokémon GO was the top free app in Apple Inc's iTunes store as of Thursday afternoon and had been installed on almost 100,000 Android devices, according to media reports.

Hunt for Pokémon everywhere

On Wednesday, a Facebook fan page was founded for the Vietnamese Pokémon GO community shortly after the game launched in Australia and New Zealand.

The Pokémon GO Viet Nam page quickly gathered more than 91,000 likes in two days, with followers sharing installation tips and screenshots of Pokémon caught in unusual places, thanks to augmented reality technology that can show Pokémon in places like pagodas, kitchens, bedrooms, and restrooms.

A page member uploaded a series of photos to showcase his ‘trophy’ after “walking for four hours.”

“This game is great for health, especially people with big bellies who don’t exercise,” he wrote.

wibDMhaU.pngA Pokémon at your doorstep

Another member, Pham Minh Trung, posted a photo showing the Pokémon he just caught in the campus of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Ho Chi Minh City.

“The game play is great because the developer has real experience in augmented reality technology,” Trung said. “The only drawback is that it drains my battery and the server is down at times.”

Some Vietnamese players have complained that they had been frequently kicked out of the game, or the app simply crashed on their mobile devices.

It has been reported that the game developer blocked Vietnamese users, as Pokémon GO is not yet officially available in the Southeast Asian country.

Though location may be the problem, it is more likely that the app server isn’t able to withstand the enormous traffic it is receiving as it is only meant to test-run in a handful of markets.

As of Friday at noon, it remains unclear when the block will be removed for diehard Vietnamese fans.

Caution alert

To some players, Pokémon GO brought not only joy but also trouble.

“I was walking around the street hunting for Pokémon, my eyes glued to the screen, when the phone disappeared,” a member wrote. “Highly recommended: you should not play this in the street.”

A Pokémon Go player named Nhut Linh also recounted a tragicomic experience he had with the game. “I was taking a nap when somebody rang the doorbell, asking to enter as he found a Pokémon inside my house,” he shared on his Facebook.

From a security perspective, Do Vo Thang, director of Athena, an Internet security training center in Ho Chi Minh City, warned against the download of the installation file of the game from unknown sources.

As the game is not officially available for download in Vietnam, Android users have to download an APK file to install the game on their own.

“There are many of these types of files with malicious software inside, which, once activated can steal personal data, or even secretly record phone calls on the victims’ devices,” Thang said.

“It is recommended that Vietnamese fans wait until for the official launch of the game.”

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