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Pokémon Go craze sweeps metro Denver, nation

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DENVER -- Have you seen a Pikachu, Jigglypuff or Bulbasaur on a recent outing? The digital game Pokémon Go is sweeping the nation, but the game has presented several safety issues.

Pokémon are popping up all over Colorado and people who have "gotta catch 'em all" are running wild.

The cyber scavenger hunt is sending gamers out on real-world adventures.

"With Pokémon Go, you'll discover Pokémon in a whole new world — your own!" the company said.

Players can be spotted running around cities hoping to catch creatures on the app to win points.

"It might look a little funky whenever you see 15 people gathered up at a church or something all looking at your phone," Andre Sanchez said.

"I walked 10 miles through downtown Denver just to catch em all," Faith Gallegos said on the FOX31 Denver Facebook page.

(Photo: Faith Gallegos)

(Photo: Faith Gallegos)

 

Pokémon Go takes creatures from the popular Game Boy games of the 1990s and superimposes them in real-world locations, a concept known as augmented reality. Aerodactyls, flareons can Mewtwos be found at certain GPS coordinates, but are only visible through your camera phone (after downloading the free app).

The type of species you'll find depends on where you are and the time of day or night.

Gamer Erica Cano spotted the nocturnal Meowth at Red Rocks during Global Dance Festival.

City landmarks are used as “Poké Stops” that house creatures with the most points. You can collect items including Poké Balls and eggs that can hatch into Pokémon.

Some players are willing to go to the extreme.

"One friend is going to Greenland and then Norway, then the Arctic Circle up to the North Pole to try and find the rarest Pokémon," Steig Strong said.

Finding the creatures can be a safety issue for younger players. Often times, the characters with the most points are found off the beaten path.

When players first download the app, it reminds the user to stay alert and aware of their surroundings.

"For me, I usually wait until I’m at a pretty decent spot to actually look. I’m not going to stop in the middle of the street and look at my phone if something pops up," Sanchez said.

Sometimes, it can look like the Pokémon creatures are in the middle of the street. But we found that the characters will move with you when you’re close enough.

Even police are observing suspicious behavior. Strong said his friends will play during the early-morning hours in strange places in hopes to find the rare Pokémon.

"He just said the cops came up and were questioning them, they didn’t believe they were looking for Pokémon," Strong said.

Older players said teens should never venture out alone. Catching them all isn’t worth risking your safety.

"If it’s more accessible for you to go somewhere else a little safer, go there. Don’t go to a place you feel you won’t be safe at," Sanchez said.

Hundreds will meet up in City Park in Denver next week to play the game.

Pokémania has gone viral since the app became available in the U.S. on July 5.

By Sunday, the game was approaching Twitter in terms of daily active users on Android, according to data published Sunday by SimilarWeb.

And the augmented reality game is still gaining virtual ground.

As of Monday, it was the top free app in the Google Play store, ahead of Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram.