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Pokemon Go is a global hit; so how does it work?

Posted at 9:16 AM, Jul 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-11 09:25:06-04

Pokemon Go just hit the market 5 days ago, and already it's become a global phenomenon with millions of players hitting the streets to find those elusive creatures in this "augmented reality" game.

The digitally-assisted scavenger hunt game quickly became the #1 app in iTunes over the weekend.  And kids -- and believe it or not, parents and grandparents -- are getting on board.

It uses your GPS to bring you to different locations to look for Pokemon.  When users are out walking in the real world and near a Pokemon in the game world, your phone alerts you and you can switch your phone to camera mode, which will display the Pokemon in your environment.

Users can then try to capture the Pokemon by throwing Pokeballs at them.  Pokeballs can be obtained at virtual Pokestops located at local landmarks and parks.

The game is free to download and play, but like most free games, there are options to purchase items that make collecting Pokemon easier.

Once you have your Pokemon, they can be used to fight for control over "gyms", which are locations where virtual battles among different teams ensue.

Because of this, people are finding themselves in neighborhoods that they are unfamiliar with or that are unsafe some players are doing this in in the dark, late at night.

And some thieves are using features in the game to rob people.  In St. Louis, Missouri, police have recorded around eight or nine Pokémon-themed robberies so far.  The reason: the app has a lure module that players can use to attract players to their location.

Police say that you should only play this game in a group, in daylight hours and only go to neighborhoods that are crowded or that you are familiar with.

Regardless of the dangers, the app has impacted the lives of users in ways that most video games fail: by getting people outside and walking around.  Large groups of users have began appearing at public places around the country over the weekend.  

Some people are even going to great lengths to play the game.  One "gym" in New Zealand exists in a harbor, leading to the odd sight of people in kayaks staring at their phones.

The app does have one failsafe: It doesn't let you do anything while driving.  So you have to be walking while playing the game, and it won't let you play if you're going more than 20 miles per hour.

To help you in your quest to be the very best, below are five tips:

1. Have a phone charger handy – It’s no secret to those who have been playing the past few days: Pokemon Go sucks up your battery – and fast. Since your screen is lit up all the time, a charger is needed on hand unless you want your phone shutting off right as you’re approaching that Pikachu.

2. Pay attention to where other players are crowdingAccording to IGN, Pokemon generally tend to spawn in the same spots for all users; if you notice a crowd of eager Trainers, you’ve probably hit the jackpot.

3. Dress comfortably – If you’re planning a lengthy Pokemon hunting adventure, you’ll be doing tons of walking; think of it as your workout for the day, and treat it as such. That means wear weather-appropriate clothing and comfortable shoes, because once you start moving, it’s hard to stop with this addictive game.

4. Use Eggs to up your Pokemon count – Using Pokeballs, you can capture eggs to birth your own Pokemon. Put your egg inside the incubator, and at that point, all you need to do is walk to complete the process.

5. Use Incense and Lure Modules – These draw Pokemon closer to you and are great ways to make plenty of catches in a short amount of time. A benefit of using Lure Modules: These will help out any other player at that particular Pokestop for up to half an hour.