Biologists created a new way of playing Pokémon Go.

Love it or hate it, Pokémon Go has turned into a global phenomenon.

The new mobile augmented-reality game sends Pokémon trainers on literal treks around their neighborhoods in search of rare and mysterious "pocket monsters" with a multitude of powers and strengths.

You're not going to catch that Drowzee with a regular pokéball. You're gonna need a great ball, pal. Photo by George Clerk/Getty Images.


The game is popular across nations and generations and is already estimated to be on around 5% of smartphones. Not too shabby for five weeks in the app stores.

With more people outside exploring their neighborhood and public spaces in search of Pokémon, one government agency is getting in on the fun.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) biologists compared the look and powers of Pokémon to real-life animals to create ... (wait for it) ... Wildlife Go.

The social media campaign features 15 digital trading cards pairing Pokémon with vulnerable or endangered creatures found in national wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries.

"One of the things that we've done is look at species of Pokémon that look similar to species that Fish and Wildlife are responsible for, like the endangered Fender's blue butterfly, which looks a lot like the Pokemon character the butterfree," Megan Nagel with the FWS told KVAL-TV.

Image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

But there are plenty more where that came from. Check out the superpowers of nine real animals in your neck of the woods.

1. Gray wolves communicate by howling, dancing, crouching, whimpering, and barking.

Image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

2. The large Pacific green turtle nests in more than 80 countries!

Image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

3. Yellow-faced bees are so vital to Hawaiian flora that a continued decline in their population may lead to a loss of native plants.

Image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

5. With wings that can stretch nearly 10 feet, the California condor is the largest flying bird in North America.

Image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

6. Wigglytuffs are cute, but they've got nothing on pygmy rabbits, which weigh one pound and are less than a foot long.

Image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

7. The Oregon chub was once endangered, but thanks to conservation efforts, the species status has improved tremendously. Meanwhile, the Magikarp continues to flop aimlessly.

Image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

8. While the Mazama pocket gopher is small enough to fit in your pocket, it got its peculiar name from the fur-lined pockets on the side of its mouth.

Image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

9. The little brown bat uses echolocation to find prey. It needs to eat half of its body weight in bugs each night to stave off malnourishment.

Image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

And interestingly enough, the delightful campaign brings Pokémon full circle.

Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri was inspired to create the game after reminiscing about discovering and collecting bugs as a kid.

"Kids play inside their homes now, and a lot had forgotten about catching insects," Tajiri told Time magazine in 1999. "So had I. When I was making games, something clicked and I decided to make a game with that concept."

Both Pokémon Go and Wildlife Go get kids and the young at heart back outside to play and explore. So next time you're out trekking or training, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the rare and wonderful creatures we share our world with.

But also ... you should catch that Squirtle. Photo by KeongDaGreat/Getty Images.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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