New viral 'Pokemon Go' app melds virtual world with real one

New viral 'Pokemon Go' app melds virtual world with real one
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Here's how Alice Sun describes "Pokemon Go," a new viral game app: "World changing."

And she's not exagerrating.

The app uses your smart phone's camera and location sensor to populate your surroundings with virtual characters, landmarks and objectives. In doing so, it alters users' actual landscape, melding reality with a virtual world.

And instead of traditional game play, where the user directs a character across a virtual landscape, Pokemon Go makes the user go to a real physical location.

"It actually encourages me to go outside," Sun quipped.

Fellow enthusiast Nick Huff added, "I woke up early this morning too so I could walk around the park a little bit and I didn't realize how great the morning is."

The new game flips the old stereotype of gamers being inert automatons that stare at a screen for hours on end from the comfort of a lounge chair.

"We're not like sitting on our bed all day now," said user Ruth Enriquez. "We can walk and see people -- we can interact with each other!"

Alec Laclair said the game is also challenging.

"It won't tell you go north, go south, go west. You actually have to go out and circle the block until you find it," he said.

Once you locate the item, it'll show up on your camera screen.

The game has proved addicting. But be warned, there are perils to the gameplay. Namely, users are so engaged in the game world they're not paying enough attention to the real one.

"I've actually had a car honk at me while I was crossing the street earlier because I was so engaged in the game," Sun said.

There are designed (all in good fun) dangers in the game as well: Teams and turf wars are springing up all over Oahu.

The conflict may be virtual, but the experience is all too real.

"Actually me and my friends are going to go on a hike this weekend, and hopefully we can catch some pretty cool Pokemon while we're walking up the mountain," Huff said.

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