If you’ve been on the internet — or, um, outside — lately, you may have noticed that a game called Pokémon Go is suddenly taking the world by storm. It may have you wondering, especially if you were born before 1984, just what the hell is going on.
Pokémon is a Nintendo franchise that launched in the 1990s. In its world, "trainers" travel the world to catch varied monsters called Pokémon — rats, dragons, swordlike creatures, and more — and use these critters to fight each other. The trainer’s goal is to "catch ’em all," as the franchise’s slogan suggests, and become a Pokémon master by defeating prestigious trainers known as gym leaders and Elite Four.
So what is Pokémon Go? Unlike previous Pokémon games, it’s not for Nintendo’s handheld consoles; it’s a free download for Android and iOS devices. It also doesn’t play at all like previous Pokémon games: Although the goal is still to catch ’em all, Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game — it mixes real-world elements with the game.