By Kyle Malinda-White
After Brandon Tan, 25, quit his job at an insurance company last October, he started uploading clips to YouTube of himself playing video games on multiple devices at the same time.
More recently, he began doing the same thing with the wildly popular Pokemon Go app, firing up four tablets and playing all of them simultaneously on a playground in a residential area of Singapore.
Now Tan has turned professional, selling help for 25 Singapore dollars (Bt640) per hour to anyone who wants him to take over their account to increase their level in the game.
Players of Pokemon Go walk around to collect virtual monsters, displayed on their mobile devices in real-world locations.
Videos of Tan’s skills have gone viral, including at least one video on his Facebook page that has been viewed more than 167,000 times.
But the gamer says he does it more for the fun than the money.
“Even playing two accounts, I get bored so I need to play a minimum of three. I just want to show people how I play games,” he explains.
Tan chose a playground in Hougang as his “office” because it is in the middle of four Pokestops and is famous for spawning rare Pokemon, causing hundreds of gamers to throng the area until the small hours. Tan offers his services from sunset to sunrise.
Police have responded to the Pokemon craze in the area by issuing an advisory, urging gamers not to blindly cross roads to catch Pokemon.
Tan has landed more than 20 clients since he started operations last month, and understands why they come to him.
“Some people have time but no money, some people have money but no time. They trust that I’m able to get the job done,” he says, noting that most of his clients have seen his gaming skills on YouTube.
So far, Tan has earned about S$2,000, and although the game’s creator Niantic has said that such paid services should be considered illegal, he believes he has earned the money ethically.
“The good thing is that everyone knows I’m not cheating. It’s amazing to see everyone’s expression,” says Tan, referring to fellow Pokemon players who crowd around his table while he’s playing.
Hacks have surfaced since the game’s launch in Singapore last August, and Tan says those actions should instead be criminalised.
“Niantic should just focus on people who are hacking instead of people who are buying or selling [assistance]. Those are the people who are hurting the game more.”
Tan is currently on Level 37 of the game and, despite his busy schedule, he continues to play his accounts along with the accounts he is paid to work on at the playground. He plans to discontinue his service temporarily once he hits Level 40so he can catch rare Pokemon in other parts of Singapore.
“Once I’ve collected enough Pokemon, I’ll probably stop for a while and come back once [Niantic] has improved the gym system.”