Gaga over Pokemon Go: Why everyone is talking about newest gaming craze

The augmented reality mobile game Pokemon Go on a smartphone screen, on July 11, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

If you have been paying attention to the Internet lately, chances are you would have come across people talking about the latest gaming craze, Pokemon Go.

Since its release on July 6, Pokemon Go has taken the world by storm, with millions of people canvassing their neighbourhood for creatures to catch.

Here are some of the questions people have been asking about the game.

What is Pokemon Go?

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Pokemon Go is a smartphone game developed by software development company Niantic, based on the popular Nintendo franchise.

The game makes use of augmented reality and GPS to let players hunt and catch creatures as they move around in the player's vicinity.

The augmented reality mode of the game makes the creatures appear before players as if they were in the real world.

The creatures are generated around the players based on nearby landmarks and the environment around them.

Players can catch the Pokemon by swiping Poke Balls at the creatures as they encounter them. Players can also travel to designated PokeStops and gyms, which are usually located at landmarks and places of interest.

At PokeStops, players can tap the location to generate items that can aid them in their quest.

These items can be Poke Balls, potions or Pokemon Eggs that hatch as the player travels.

At Pokemon gyms, players can battle other aspiring Pokemon trainers and their Pokemon to claim territories and resources.

What are the teams in Pokemon Go?

Apart from capturing Pokemon, the game also requires players to join a team after they have reached level 5.

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There are three teams available in Pokemon Go: Team Mystic, Team Valor and Team Instinct, represented by the colours blue, red and yellow respectively.

Players fight for the honour of their team by looking for rival gyms and battling its defending Pokemon in order to take over the gym for their own team.

Players can also battle their team's defended gyms to level up their Pokemon and increase the prestige of the gym, as well as the resources gained from ownership of the gyms.

Is it available in Singapore?

A group of people play the new game Pokemon Go on their smartphones in Union Square in New York, on July 11, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

No, unfortunately Pokemon Go has not been made available in Singapore.

The game is currently available only in Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

However, the Wall Street Journal has reported that the game is likely to reach Europe and Asia in a few days.

Some netizens were able to play the game briefly when it was launched by downloading the app through US and Australian stores on iOS devices, and by downloading a leaked APK file for Android users.

However, the servers quickly became region-locked, suspending any gameplay outside the locations where the game has been officially released.

Is the game really that popular?

A chart that shows Pokemon Go almost surpassing Twitter in terms of daily active users. PHOTO: SIMILAR WEB

Pokemon Go appears to be an instant hit, even with its limited release.

It took less than 24 hours after the game went live for it to top the download charts on iTunes in the US.

According to Internet data analytics site SimilarWeb, Pokemon Go is set to overtake Twitter in terms of Daily Active Users within the next few days.

The success of the game has also caused Nintendo's shares to surge in the last week, with the company adding US$7.5 billion (S$10.13 billion) to its market value on Monday (July 11).

This is despite the constant server issues that the game has been experiencing since its launch.

What is with the armed robberies and dead bodies?

It was inevitable that Pokemon Go would court some controversy, given that it is requires users to leave their homes and explore the real world.

The game has already led a 19-year-old girl in Wyoming to discover a dead body floating in a river.

She had been searching for water-type Pokemon when she found the body mostly submerged in the water.

Pokemon Go was also abused by four Missouri teenagers to rob unsuspecting players.

The teens made use of the game's geolocation function to lure players to secluded places where they could be easily robbed.

That being said, the game itself does not encourage users to use it for criminal means.

Is the game safe to play?

People look down as they play the new game Pokemon Go on their smartphones in Union Square in New York, on July 11, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

Yes, as long as players are constantly aware of their surroundings as they hunt for the creatures.

There have already been reports online from players who have climbed over fences and trespassed into private property in order to snag another creature for their collection.

In anticipation of the lengths that people are willing to go to catch the beloved creatures, the Western Australian police have even issued a warning to players to be mindful of their safety and to ask for permission before entering restricted and private areas and buildings.

Sources: The Guardian, The Independent, The Wall Street Journal

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