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Singapore bank launches mobile game to support city's hawker culture

In an effort to bolster Singapore's open-air food sellers — aka hawkers — local bank DBS recently launched a mobile game that lets players interact with both real and virtual food stalls. The game's aim? Collect and cook a variety of dishes to feed a gang of hungry monsters that have descended on the city.

By playing DBS PayLah! #UltimateHawker Game, participants can win cash prizes and collect monster stickers to share on Instagram and Telegram. But first, they need to find virtual food stalls spread out around Singapore, with red ones open all day and gold ones — offering bigger rewards — only available during lunch and dinner, when players are more likely to stop and treat themselves to an actual bak chor mee or roti prata.

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Singapore's beloved hawkers were hit hard over the past two years. Business plummeted during pandemic lockdowns, while sellers face stiff competition from food delivery apps and rising costs of raw materials.

The city's government is offering various forms of support, but those programs can't make up for dwindling numbers of diners. Which is where DBS Bank's game comes in, luring a younger audience out into hawker centers, and reinforcing local pride in a food scene that's been recognized by UNESCO as intangible cultural heritage

For more on consumers looking to reclaim their locale and how brands can make those places more resilient, check out STATE OF PLACE in our 22 trend opportunities for 2022.