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Pokémon Go: 'Most popular video game in the world'

Pokémon Go: 'Most popular video game in the world' (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) Since Nintendo released Pokémon Go late last week, the augmented reality video game is already on track to be one of the fastest growing phenomenons in the gaming world. More people used the app in a day than Tinder, and it's daily use is expected to exceed Twitter by the end of the week.

"It was a popular card game. It was a popular book. It was a very popular cartoon. And now Pokémon Go is arguable the most popular video game in the world," said Roger Altizer, a professor at the University of Utah's Entertainment Arts & Engineering department.

The game is an app you install on your mobile device. It uses GPS and the device's camera to superimpose digital items in real world settings.

"It's a video game that takes place in the real world, but you play it on your phone. You walk around town, you get your Pokémon, and you can try to capture gyms with your friends," said Altizer.

The game uses data that was originally crowd-sourced for another A-R game from the same parent company. Niantic released the beta version of that game, called Ingress, in 2013.

Pokémon Go is free to download but allows in-app purchases.

Some players were frustrated about the game's glitches. Altizer said they are likely due to the platform's unanticipated high traffic and recommends periodically restarting the app until the company fixes the bug.

Other concerns are around safety.

Friday evening, a teenager was assaulted while playing the game around Temple Square.

Altizer said the rewards outweigh the risk.

"There's no reason to fear Pokémon Go any more than you'd fear going to the 7-Eleven."

There have also been increased reports of suspicious activity and trespassing, police in the Salt Lake Valley said.

Lt. Jeff Conger with West Valley City Police said the department has had more than a hundred encounters with "suspicious people" gathering in unusual locations to play the game.

Conger reminded people many public places are closed overnight and they may be stopped or asked to leave if they gather during those times.

Shaun Haslem was playing Pokémon Go at Fairbourne Plaza from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. Monday morning, while the plaza was closed. He said a handful of other people were also playing the game.

"They say at night, a lot of the more rare Pokémon come out," Haslem said.

Conger said players are often distracted and that could result in injury.

"They just need to pay attention to what they are doing. If they're playing, they need to stop and interact with the app and then continue on with what they are doing."

He also warned against using the app while driving, which is a trend police are seeing.

"On the way to work today, actually, was a speed limit of 50 and I was going 25. I just didn't notice!" said one player, Matt Humphrey.

Humprey's coworker, Patrick Murphy, plays with his family.

"I did have my nephew drive me around yesterday and we caught a few!" said Murphy. "He saw a Picachu. And he stopped, flipped around, so we could get it for him."

People have turned to social media to create neighborhood groups for players to get together. Some of the more entrepreneurial-minded are offering to take people on rides around the city to collect virtual goods.

Altizer applauded the game for bringing communities together.

"Pokémon Go is a pro-social, pro-health game. This is different than the stereotype of the gamer sitting on the couch in the basement by themselves eating Cheetos and playing World of Warcraft. So Pokémon Go is going to challenge things for a lot of people."

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