The year is 2001. The cool kid in school brings his fancy new toy and whips it out during recess. It’s the Digivice everyone’s talking about! Up until now, kids have only seen it on TV but it’s finally here in the flesh.
Everyone wants a go at it and before you know it, the class teacher confiscates the toy.
Soon, everyone in school has their own Digivice. Evenings are no longer spent playing tag or hopscotch; instead kids sit in corners touching their Digivices (like you would when transferring files through infrared) to battle each other.
Then a few weeks later, the fad dies down and everything is back to normal.
ALWAYS A GAMER Not for Terry Chan though. It’s been 23 years but his excitement for the little Digital Monsters (or Digimon) actually grew over time. “I first started playing Digimon in 1998 when I was 8. My family wasn’t very well off so I played with bootleg Digivices you can buy at stationery shops but eventually they were confiscated!” Terry recalls fondly.
If you’re new to how Digimon works, players (known as Tamers in the Digimon Universe) need to get a Digivice, a handheld device the size of your palm with a built-in Digimon (similar to a virtual pet) you need to train, play and feed by clicking the buttons on the device to reach new levels.
Today, Terry is the Group Vice President of Digi-Destined Malaysia (DDM), a community he describes is “built on friendship, trust and our passion for this niche hobby.” You read that right, a community completely built around this retro game!
Terry was among the first to join when it was established in 2015. “I stumbled upon the group while scrolling through Facebook. I was nervous but the members were very open and friendly. They even introduced me to the events and other members; we became good friends! Some have even invited me to their weddings where everyone poses with their Digivice with the bride and groom!” Terry says.
DDM was established when a few friends came together to relive the nostalgia of battling Digivices. It has since grown from strength to strength, and today the community has amassed almost 10,000 members on their Facebook Group with over 8,000 active members all across the country, making it one of the biggest Digimon groups in Southeast Asia. Most members are between 25 to 34 but that said, the youngest is only 10.
What is it about the game that still excites these members? For Terry, he rejoices in the ability to take care of your Digimon, train, play and feed them, increasing their strength and getting them ready for battle! Similar to how chess players relish the moment they win a chess game, Tamers love the feeling of their Digimons winning battles.
Up until the pandemic, DDM would hold monthly battle gatherings that contribute to a leader board where Tamers accumulate points. By the end of the year, The Best Tamer will bring home a trophy. Aside from monthly gatherings, DDM also hosts its flagship Grand Prix, a whole day battle that promises exciting prizes including new Digivices, Gundam models, Tamiya cars and other valuable collectibles.
Terry however feels that DDM is more than just about hosting battles and winning. “Members would drop by any of our gatherings and talk about their Digimons or just lepak with other members. It’s really about the experience and the environment more than anything else,” he says.
But with COVID running rampant, all battle events have been put on hold until further notice. This hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of members though as their social media pages are still buzzing with members sharing tips and tricks for their Digimon and update progress.
Terry is proud that this little community is making waves in the global Digimon scene. “We managed to become one of the biggest in the region and we’re proud to do this without any racial bias or prejudice. This is truly a Malaysian dream!” he exclaims.
"We've been in contact with other Digimon communities around the world with the intention of hosting a battle event right here in Malaysia, truly exciting times ahead!" he continued.
Interested? You can join DDM here! They’ll be more than happy to assist you in getting the Digivice you wanted since you were a kid!