If you're finally entering the world of "Pokemon GO" as it enters its second week of pop culture domination, be warned: there's a war going on, and you will be asked to take a side. Upon reaching level 5, players are able to participate in Pokemon battles to take control of gyms at different landmarks, but to do so you will have to join one of three teams: Team Valor, Team Mystic, or Team Instinct.
Each of the three teams uses a color and insignia based on one of the three legendary birds. Team Valor follows the fire bird, Moltres, and values strength.
Team Mystic follows the bird of ice, Articuno, and views wisdom and composure as the key to victory in every battle.
Finally there's Team Instinct, which follows the electric bird Zapdos. As its name suggests, this team believes in going with your gut to win. Beyond the color and basic values, there's not much difference between the three teams as "Pokemon GO" presents them, but just a week after release, they have transformed into something completely different at the hands of the gamers.
Team Valor has gained a reputation for being ridiculously competitive and aggressive. Word has spread among "Go" gamers of Valor players traveling in packs to take over as many gyms as possible in a certain area.
Valor has also been known for coordinating battles to take over gyms connected to major landmarks. Valor's conquests include the Empire State Building, Disneyland and the Pentagon.
Team Mystic has become Valor's blood rival. Its ranks outnumber those of the other two teams, according to Adobe Social, and the most devoted of Articuno's followers are trying to rally the troops to take back Valor's strongholds.
Eventually, those involved in the never-ending fight for territorial control realized that it is easier to take over gyms late at night, when fewer people are playing. This has led to "Pokemon GO" users taking to the streets after dark, trying to take over gyms while those who hold them are asleep in bed.
Where Team Instinct fits into all of this depends on who you ask. Some Instinct members are more than happy to let their red and blue rivals duke it out amongst themselves. A portion of Instinct gamers have instead devoted themselves to hatching eggs, going out on 10 km walks together to hatch powerful Pokemon.
Other Instinct members have formed a truce with Team Mystic, agreeing to work together to gang up on clusters of gyms controlled by Team Valor.
All the while, all three teams have taken up various mottos similar to those used by the Starks and Lannisters on "Game of Thrones." As befitting a team with a firebird sigil, Team Valor has adopted the mantra of the followers of the Lord of Light: "The night is dark and full of terrors." They have also adopted a modified version of House Greyjoy's motto: "What is Red may never die."
Meanwhile, Team Mystic have fully embraced House Stark, taking their "Winter is Coming" motto and referring to Articuno as "The Bird In The North."
The members of Team Instinct follow the small but mighty ways of House Mormont and adopted a motto that is entirely their own: "There is no shelter from the storm."
But as the feud continues to build, some gamers want peace between the three groups. Deviantart user Seoxys6 created an insignia for a fourth group called Team Harmony, which has become an unofficial group for members of all three teams looking to coexist. The bird chosen to represent the team is Lugia, who is called upon in one of the Pokemon movies to help bring peace to the three warring birds.
It's a nice sentiment, but as long as there are gyms to win, it seems inevitable that Valor and Mystic will keep trying to outdo each other while Instinct keeps doing ...whatever it is that Instinct does.