Pokemon Go fever is sweeping the world, turning people into phone-gazing zombies as they bimble about the place hunting for little cartoon characters with silly names.

So what exactly is going on? Should you join in the fun? Should you be concerned?

Here's everything you need to know about Pokemon Go.

What is Pokemon Go?

Pokemon Go is a new mobile game from the Pokemon universe for Android and iOS. It is based around Pokemon fundamentals of finding, catching, evolving, training and battling Pokémon. 

In the case of Pokemon Go, this happens on your smartphone and in the real world around you, so you need to go out, search and find Pokemon in real places, rather than just in a game world. 

Why is everyone talking about Pokemon Go?

Pokemon has always been a huge franchise, in gaming, merchandising and on TV, thanks to the cutesy characters like Pikachu. The new game launched in some countries on 6 July, so it's new and exciting for Pokemon fans.

But it's not just the fans. The novelty of the game sees it as a breakthrough, mapping the real world and using augmented reality to take the game into a new dimension through mobile devices and making you get out into the real world.

It is highly addictive, it's fun and it's just turned into the biggest craze, taking over social media and just about every other conversation.

What's that about augmented reality?

Augmented reality (AR) is when what you see in the real world is changed by technology. In this case, it uses the camera on the rear of your smartphone and places the characters from the game for you to see on your display, blending the real world and the game world.

That means that the Pokemon appear in real places, rather than a made-up world. This is one of the reasons it's so exciting, because AR brings the game to life and you'll find Pokemon down your street, at your local park and so on.

Does Pokemon Go involve exercise?

Yes it does. Pokemon Go is a game that encourages, nay, demands that you get off your sofa and explore, because that's the only way you'll find the Pokemon. 

You can't move around just by using your thumbs, you have to actually walk to real places on the map, outside, and see what you can find. There are Pokemon to capture, game objects to collect from Poke Stops and Pokemon Gyms to train or battle in, and all these things are in the real world.

So Pokemon Go rewards you for being active?

Yes it does. One of the ways it does this is by letting you find eggs, which you place into an incubator and they only hatch once you've walked a certain distance - that might be 2km, it might be 5km. 

You will also get awards for walking distances. Cover 10km in the game and you'll get an award for that, as well, of course, finding more places with Poke Stops, Gyms and Pokemon to catch. 

Where can I find Poke Stops and Pokemon Gyms?

They're all over the place, but typically you'll find a Poke Stop in a place of cultural significance. That might be a statue, historical building, local pub, or some other feature of local importance. You don't have to go into places, unless they cover a lot of land. Often if you're close, that's good enough. 

That means that empty places might have very few Poke Stops, like remote country areas, and some are densely populated with Poke treats, like city centres.

Pokemon Gyms are even bigger locations, like a transport hub, bridge or other significant location. For some good examples, see what we found when exploring the Pokemon Go map around London

Is Pokemon Go safe?

As safe as the real world can be. The distraction of watching your phone means you're a risk of walking into things like roads, or worse, driving into things if you're playing when you're supposed to be driving your car. We've seen a Gym on the other side of a railway and there's the temptation to stand too close to the tracks, just to access that Gym.

As for encouraging people to explore places they don't normally go, that could be good and bad. Yes, you find things you might not normally notice in your local town, but at the same time, the pursuit of Pokemon could easily lead you on and on to places you really shouldn't be.

You can also drop lures and this is one of the contentious issue. These are in-game elements to attract Pokemon to a particular (real) position and other gamers can benefit, by walking into the same (real) place. That's fun in a park during a day, less fun down a dark alley at night.

The message about the real world remains the same: use your head and if you have kids, make sure you know what they're doing.

Is the Pokemon Go app secure?

There have been concerns raised about privacy in Pokemon Go in the early days. 

Firstly, with lots of people trying to get access to the game before it's officially available, there's plenty of opportunity for fake versions of the app to appear containing malware - especially on Android where installing apps is very easy. If in doubt, don't do it and wait.

Secondly questions were raised over the access that the Pokemon Go asked when you sign in with a Google account, particularly on iPhone. A new app has been released that addresses this issue, and no one came to any harm.

How much does Pokemon Go cost?

Pokemon Go works on a freemium model. That means the game itself is free, but there are in-app purchases available.

The way this works is offering you a store where you can buy things using coins. These coins can be bought in the app using real money. 

For example: you can buy 200 Poke Balls for 800 coins. You can buy 1,200 coins for £7.99 - that's real money. Or you can visit lots of Poke Stops and collect Poke Balls for free. If you're rich and impatient then the world is your oyster.

The longer-term question is whether game progress is hampered by not spending real money. At that point you either have to decide the fun is worth the price, or accept that you've reached the limit of playing without paying. This is how freemium games work and one to watch, especially if you have kids using your phone and they are able to make in-app purchases.

What impact does Pokemon Go have on battery life?

Massive. As the game wants the phone to be awake when you are walking around, it's using the display, data to sync with the game services and the GPS, as well as tracking motion. As it's a benefit to walk around with your phone awake, as that's how you find things, it's all that screen-on time that kills the battery. 

What can you do about battery drain? You can stop playing, or carry an external battery pack.

How can I get Pokemon Go?

Pokemon Go is available as an app to download for Android and iOS. It's available now in the relative app stores, but the availability is limited.

Because of a phased global roll-out, only some territories have official access to the game - like Australia, Japan, New Zealand, USA and Germany.

However, eager fans have figured out other ways to get hold of the game and start playing before its official arrival in their countries.

If Pokemon Go is not yet available to you, follow these instructions to get started, but bear in mind that with a game this popular there may be fake versions loaded with malware, so you do so at your own risk. If you're unsure, you might want to just wait until it's officially launched. 

When will Pokemon Go launch in the UK?

That's a good question. At the moment a launch date hasn't been confirmed, other than to say it will be "soon", but rumours are already suggesting that Pokemon Go might launch on 14 July in the UK.