Pokemon Go pandemonium explained
These little monsters have hit the streets of Edmonton
The urge to "catch them all" has taken over.
Pokémon Go, a new smartphone game based on cute critters like Charmander and Pikachu, has gamers around the world leaving their consoles behind to hit the streets.
The new release from the Nintendo franchise, not yet officially released in Canada, is an "augmented reality" game which layers the Pokémon universe onto the real world.
"It's the kind of game where you're in the real world, but objects are laid overtop of it. So you still see your street and grass, and then hey, there is a Pokémon sitting in a tree," said Dana DiTomaso, Edmonton AM's technology columnist.
"It's still a hugely popular game, and the whole idea is that you're collecting different creatures and training them to battle each other, for fun of course."
'Like the TV show come to life'
Players can catch all kinds of exotic creatures, from rare species to prized fighters — they can look like dragons or snakes, cats or birds — and each comes with its own set of superpowers.
DiTomaso says capturing and taming these majestic little monsters fulfills a fantasy for longtime fans of the storied video game.
"If you're closer to the ocean there are different creatures versus inland, and you train your Pokémon and fight them against other Pokémon users in what are called gyms," DiTomaso said.
"I think it's the collecting aspect of it, and the idea of walking around and finding one. I think that's enormously exciting. It's kind of like the TV show come to life."
But the hunt for the capable critters has led to a bizarre string of events around the world.
People have been hunting Pokémon in office cubicles, city parks, and even in public bathrooms.
Thieves in the United States have been luring victims with the possibility of finding Pokémon characters, and one teenage girl found a dead body while looking for Pokémon in Missouri.
"Another player, his house is a gym in Pokémon, so he's had all these people stand outside his house, at all hours of the day and night, playing on their phones," DiTomaso said.
"There was also a police station in Australia that had to ask people to stop people from coming inside to try to collect Poké balls — which is what you use to capture Pokémon — because the station was a stop for that in the game.
"It's been interesting."
Even for the most cautious player, the thrill of the chase can make the game more risky than your average gaming adventure.
"Because you actually have to chase the Pokémon in some cases, some people have been running into traffic," cautions DiTomaso.
"The game is really immersive."
But the game has become so popular, it's keeping some hunting grounds off limits.
So far, Pokémon Go is only widely available in the United States, and has not been officially released in Canada.
Game so popular it's hard to get
"The problem is, the game is overloaded. I really don't think they anticipated how much interest there was going to be," said DiTomaso.
"People can't log-in in the other countries where it's been released because the servers are just overloaded."
DiTomaso says you can only access the game on Android devices through questionable third party app downloads or by tinkering with the location settings on your phone.
"Please don't. A lot of these apps are infected with viruses. They are quite iffy … and the company is banning users that are accessing illegally, so maybe just be patient," said DiTomaso.
"So as much as it sucks, you have to wait."
But don't be fooled. Just because you can't see the little monsters, doesn't mean they aren't there.
"Apparently there are Pokémon all around Edmonton, just waiting to be captured," said DiTomaso.