You may have seen them around town: Children, teens, even adults wandering around, only periodically looking up from their smartphones. They’re probably playing one of the hottest games of the app era: Pokemon Go.
Q. What in the world is it?
A. Pokemon Go (iOS, Android) is an augmented-reality game released in July 2016 by Niantic and The Pokemon Company. Players (known as trainers in Pokemon) try to catch different Pokemon characters as they walk around their surroundings by catching them with a Poke Ball. Once they’re caught, players store them in a Pokedex (a virtual file folder). Players try to evolve their characters into stronger versions by collecting goodies and experience. There are more than 150 characters in all. Some are based on animals, some on various folk tales, and some are just straight-up fictional creatures. You might have heard of Pikachu – he’s the franchise’s most popular character.
Pokemon Go caused quite a stir when it was first released. This video taken in Central Park in the summer of 2016 shows a crowd rushing to “catch” one of the game’s characters with their phones.
Q. Why do I see so many kids playing in certain locations?
A. Certain places – usually with some historical or cultural significance – are designated as PokeStops and gyms. Players can stock up on Poke Balls and other goodies at PokeStops, and battle other Pokemon and gain experience points at gyms.
Q. I vaguely recall Pokemon being around in the ’90s. Am I right?
A. Yup! Pokemon started out in Japan 1996 as a video game then quickly morphed into an uber-popular card trading game. It’s been around since then with various video game and television series.