Everything you need to know about Pokemon Go

Mumsnetters are already obsessed with Pokemon Go - and it's only just been released in the UK. Here's what you need to know about this gaming sensation - and how to get it for your child (or, y'know, yourself)

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What is it?

Pokemon Go is a mobile gaming app created by Nintendo - it's free to download and available on phones that run Android or iOS. It uses the phone's GPS function to allow users to become Pokemon trainers, capturing virtual Pokemon via their smartphone, and battle them at 'Gyms'. 

Why's everyone going nuts for it?

Well, it's been years in the making - Pokemon originally launched in 1995, and 21 years later, the franchise is still going strong. The app is the first mobile Pokemon game, and has attracted the attention not only of younger fans, but those who were children when the game originally came out. In short, it's a massive nostalgia trip.

It's also getting people out of the house - you need to travel around to find new Pokemon and collect supplies. So you can get some exercise and catch a Pikachu. Amazing.

How does it work?

The game works by loading information from your phone's GPS system - it tracks your movements in real time, and pulls in information from maps to create a virtual world. It designates local landmarks as 'Poke Stops' on the map, where users can go to collect items, and 'Gyms' where they can go to battle and win badges. The main feature of the game is the ability to capture Pokemon, who appear at random or at predetermined spots that users can walk to when they get an alert on their phone that there's a Pokemon nearby. 

When the Pokemon appears, the game uses the phone's camera to show an 'augmented reality' version of the Pokemon in 'real life' - which has lead to some hilarious photographs surfacing. There's also an optional accessory available to purchase - the Pokemon Go plus - but that's not launching until later this month, and probably not in the UK til later this year. 

Is there anything I should be aware of?

There have been reports of people having mishaps while playing the game, by climbing over fences to get into an area where they've seen a Pokemon, for example, or not looking where they're going because they're staring at their phone screen. 

On the technical side of things, the game uses data. Lots of data. If you've only got a limited amount, you might want to close it when you're not using it, though this will mean you won't get the 'location alerts' telling you when a Pokemon is nearby. If you can run it on Wifi that's your best option. There is also the option for In-app purchasing, so if you have a child using it, you might want to ensure this feature is disabled so you don't end up with a huge, very non-virtual phone bill.

In short, if your child has the game, or is begging you to download it, it's worth going over some common sense rules with them. You might feel a bit weird saying 'Don't run into the road chasing Pikachu', but needs must.

Okay, I'm intrigued. How do I get it?

The game's rolling out gradually across the world, having first launched in Japan, the USA and Australia. It's now available in the UK for Apple and Android devices, so you should be able to download it from the corresponding app store, and get hunting Pokemon straight away.

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Last updated: 5 months ago