Alert: Don't let Pokemon Go catch you off-guard
POKEMON Go mania has swept the United States as players armed with smartphones hunt streets, parks, rivers and elsewhere to capture monsters and gather supplies in the hit game.
The game uses the Global Positioning System (GPS) and mapping capabilities in mobile phones to let players roam the real world to play the game.
Pokemon monsters can be seen through smartphone cameras, with characters appearing in whatever real settings are in view. They are caught by hitting them with virtual balls tossed by swiping across the phone's touchscreen.
"It is nice to have a video game that makes you actually walk around instead of sitting in front of a TV screen holding a controller," said Lucas Garcia, 17.
Players can also to find "PokeStops" stocked with supplies and to gather monster eggs, which they incubate by racking up walking distances.
Players can also visit "gyms", where the captured cartoon creatures can be trained for battle. These places can be landmarks around town, such as a church.
"I'll walk up to a PokeStop and see all of these people standing around flicking their fingers across their phones," Garcia said.
A tidal wave of interest in the game has bogged down servers hosting the software, frustrating some players and delaying plans to launch Pokemon Go in more countries.
By Monday, Pokemon Go had been downloaded millions of times, topping rankings at official online shops for apps tailored for smartphones powered by Apple or Google-backed Android software.
But the massive popularity has also prompted authorities to sound words of caution.
They are advising players to avoid breaking the law by trespassing in places that are not open to the public in the search for cartoon creatures, and saying that some players have been targeted by criminals.
The Missouri Police Department, for instance, warned on its Facebook page that robbers were preying on players drawn to rich troves of Pokemon monsters in parking lots or other secluded places where victims might be vulnerable.
There have also been reports of mishaps to players.
A young woman playing Pokemon Go came upon a dead body in a Wyoming river while hunting a water monster in the game, according to US news reports.
Pokemon Go comes with warnings to players to remain aware of their surroundings.
Still, college student Owen Fairchild described that the game can be so engrossing that he has bumped into things on sidewalks.