NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ--Pokémon Go is the free "augmented reality" mobile phone game that has taken the country by storm, bringing its millions of users outdoors all over the U.S.
Nintendo and The Pokémon Company released the game in the U.S. on July 7, and it quickly captured more daily users than Instagram and Snapchat. Within the first week, more than 21 million users had signed up to play.
The game currently consists of the Pokémon from "generation one," the same critters featured in some of the games today's young aduts remember from their youth. The main goal remains, quite simply, to catch them all!
Since then, players have been forced to get up from their couches and take to the streets of New Jersey, searching for fictional creatures in nearby parks, grocery stores, offices, famous landmarks, and countless other locations.
Rutgers University was recently named the 19th best place to play the game in the entire country by Fansided.
Besides having fun while playing, the game has three amazing benefits for players.
The first is increased social interaction, as players have been talking to each other at Pokémon hot spots, using the game as an icebreaker.
Second, there is an increase in physical activity, forcing gamers to explore their surroundings, encouraging exercise and social interaction while simultaneously bringing in new revenue to small businesses
Finally, it has helped bring revenue to small businesses.
Businesses have been taking advantage of their locations, if they happen to be a "Pokéstop" or a "gym," and even buying "lures" in order to attract more Pokémon, which will in turn attract more players.
For $100, a business can buy 21 eight-packs of lures to use to bring more Pokémon to their location. At the end of the day, this only costs a business $1.19 per hour over the span of 84 hours.
With the increase of foot traffic a lure can attract, it may well be worth the price, depending on the type of business.
During its final weeks open under its longtime owners, Tumulty's Pub on George Street took advantage of its designation as a "Pokéstop," buying lures in order to draw in customers.
Similarly, The Stress Factory has been distributing free tickets for comedy shows to customers who show they play Pokémon Go.
Other restaurants, such as Catherine Lombardi's, have advertised discounts to members of the team who currently own the local "gym," and have posted pictures of rare Pokémon found near them on social media to attract customers.
Augmented reality is what has brought the game to life, forcing players to go outside and hunt for Pokémon. Once signed into Google, users can navigate a virtual map based on actual locations, with Pokémon, gyms, and items scattered around real-life locations.
Once a Pokémon appears, the phone's camera offers a view of the virtual creatures superimposed on the real world.
Using a bit of skill, users must then swipe up on the screen in order to launch a "Pokéball" to capture their target.
Don't worry if you miss: You can always look around for your unsucessful Pokéballs on the ground. However, there may only be a few opportunities to catch the Pokémon before it runs away.
Gamers can then train their Pokémon and battle to gain control of local gyms.
According to Forbes, the success of the game has sent Nintendo's stock soaring with market value gains reaching $7.5 billion.
After one week, the game was generating nearly $2 million dollars daily in revenue. It officially surpassed Candy Crush's record of 20 million users, becoming the most popular mobile app in U.S. history.
In New Brunswick, there are gyms at the Stress Factory on Church Street, and the Barnes and Nobles on the corner of Somerset Street and College Avenue.
New Brunswick Today learned from skilled players that one of the best locations for lures is Monument Square, the small park at the corner of George Street and Livingston Avenue, where there are three different Poké stops all at the same corner.
Popular Pokémon such as Rattata, Meoth, Weedle, and Eevee have been found in New Brunswick, according to gamers.
Some have been lucky enough to find more exotic Pokémon, such as a Snorlax on Livingston Avenue and a Taurus in front of Noodle Gourmet on Easton Avenue.
But not everyone is happy with the new craze, which has caused annoyance for some property owners and allegedly cause some to drive while distracted by the game.
The game's developer, Niantic, also admits "heavy battery use" has been a problem, stating, "Some devices may experience battery drain while playing Pokémon Go for prolonged periods of time. We are working on a solution."
When opening the game, a friendly warning is displayed, cautioning players, "Stay aware of your surroundings."
In O'Fallon, Missouri, police reported teenagers allegedly using the game to steal users' smart phones. They used the geolocation feature to draw them into specific areas with the promise of Pokémon.
There were also reports of a young gamer in Wyoming finding a dead body while trying to locate a Pokémon near a river.
Players are using social media to share stories about nearly getting into crashes trying to catch Pokémon while driving, and colliding with various objects while playing on foot, resulting in injuries.
According to NJ.com's Craig McCarthy, a West Orange man has filed a federal lawsuit against Nintendo, Niantic, and the Pokémon Company alleging that the game has encouraged millions of gamers to trespass, or otherwise prevent property owner from enjoying their land
"At least five gamers also knocked on Marder's door asking for permission to catch Pokemon in the homeowner's backyard," according to the report.