Commuting alongside a handful of people with their eyes glued to their phones is nothing new. Slightly unusual, though, is having someone point their device directly above your head and scream, “I caught a Snorlax!!!”
In the event that you’ve been living under a rock for the past few days: Pokémon—the popular '90s Nintendo game—is back with a vengeance in the form of a mobile app. The goal of Pokémon Go, which was officially released on July 5 and is available for free download by iPhone and Android users, is the same as that of the original game: gotta catch ‘em all (“’em” being fictional cartoon creatures). As our friends over at Entertainment Weekly described it: “Pokémon GO is a new interactive, augmented reality game that allows you to find, capture, and train Pokémon in the real world right from your iPhone…The locations in the game actually correspond to real places, and you discover new Pokémon by roaming around with the app open.”
For example, if you head over to N.Y.C.’s Rockefeller Center and launch the app, you might find a Charzard breathing fire on oblivious passerby.
Waiting for the subway in SoHo, you may encounter a Ratata (the geniuses behind the app have gone so far as to correlate the type of creature with its surroundings).
To catch these little dudes, you simply flick your Poké Ball at them. The next step is to train your Pokémon to help them, and you, level up. As you rise in the ranks, you gain access to features like “gyms,” which are Pokémon landmarks that allow you to battle with other players.
In only one week, the number of Pokémon Go users has almost exceeded the number of Twitter users. But whether or not you decide to hop on the trend, at least you’ll know that your co-worker isn’t creepily taking a picture of you—she's probably just catching the Squirtle sitting on your desk.