Pokemon Go encouraging blood donations in Japan

Pokemon Go is out for blood, in a good way: encouraging players to contribute by making blood donation centres points of interest in game. — MUHAMAD SHAHRIL ROSLI/The Star

Blood donation centres in Japan have appeared in the megahit smartphone game Pokemon Go, drawing a positive response at a time when the country's blood donation programme is struggling amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some Pokemon Go players have visited centres to donate their blood for the first time in a decade, according to Jiji Press.

The game "provides a huge opportunity to learn about the blood donation programme," said an official at the Japanese Red Cross Society, which operates the programme.

In Pokemon Go, 45 blood donation centres in the Kanto-Koshinetsu areas in central and eastern Japan, including Tokyo, have become "PokeStops," where players can obtain game items.

According to the society's Kanto-Koshinetsu division, the addition of the centres was proposed by the app's developer, US software company Niantic Inc., in November last year.

The centres were added March 23 this year after Japan fully exited its latest Covid-19 pre-emergency measures. They feature "Chansey," known as "Lucky" among Japanese users, a Pokemon character that heals the injured by sharing its eggs, the report added.

Players can receive special gifts in the game if they visit the blood donation centres.

The society has seen group blood donations at companies and other organisations canceled repeatedly due to coronavirus infection surges. – Bernama

"We are very thankful" for Niantic's proposal, an official at the Kanto-Koshinetsu division said.

"We see people playing Pokemon Go in resting rooms at blood donation centres. Some visited us for the first time in around 10 years," the official also said. "We feel the number of visitors is increasing.

"The best part about Pokemon Go is that the game offers players an opportunity to go outside and discover new places," Jiji Press quoting a Niantic official said.

"We'll be very glad if people who have never donated their blood feel motivated to visit (blood donation centres)," the official added. – Bernama

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