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Pokemon GO Craze Sweeps US

  • VOA News

FILE - The Pikachu balloon floats in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York in New York, Nov. 22, 2012.

FILE - The Pikachu balloon floats in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York in New York, Nov. 22, 2012.

If you’ve been on social media in the past few days, you’ve no doubt seen pictures of little animated monsters in real life situations like on a subway or in a restaurant.

That’s thanks to the new Pokémon GO smartphone game from Nintendo.

The game has been so popular the company had to limit new users while it upgraded its servers.

The game is already impacting Nintendo’s bottom line as the stock jumped by 25 percent Monday, adding $7 billion to the company’s value.

Millions have already downloaded the augmented reality game in which users try to catch Pokémon characters on-screen in real-world situations. That means to play, a user must go out and about in search of Pikachu and other characters.

This has already led to some problems as people congregate at locations marked as important in the game.

For example, in Australia a police station was marked as a place to find creatures or collect other items for use in the games. So many players showed up, the police had to tell people not to go into the station while playing, according to CNN.

In the U.S state of Wyoming, Shayla Wiggins, 19, came across a dead body while playing Friday.

"I was trying to get a water Pokémon," said Wiggins in an interview with CNN. "I probably would have never went down there if it weren't for this game."

In Missouri, armed robbers lured players to isolated places hoping to rob them.

"Using the geolocation feature of the 'Pokémon GO' app the robbers were able to anticipate the location and level of seclusion of unwitting victims," officials said. "The way we believe it was used is you can add a beacon to a pokestop to lure more players. Apparently they were using the app to locate people standing around in the middle of a parking lot or whatever other location they were in," O'Fallon police posted on Facebook.

The Pokémon Company International and Niantic, the co-developer, warned players in a joint statement.

"We encourage all people playing Pokémon GO to be aware of their surroundings and to play with friends when going to new or unfamiliar places. Please remember to be safe and alert at all times."

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