Ingress gets gamers off the couch7/3/2013
You may not be aware, but you are living in a war zone. Central Iowa is currently besieged by two warring factions that are fighting for the future of our very existence. Why haven’t you heard anything about this on the news? Because it’s occurring on a plane of existence only visible through specially-equipped devices… and it’s a game.
Last November Google unveiled “Ingress,” a free, augmented-reality, geocaching mobile game. While most video games are played on computers and gaming consoles, Ingress is played in the real world with smartphones. Similar to other role-playing games, Ingress players (known as agents) collect weapons, attack points and claim battle sites known as “portals.” Plus players are split into two factions: the Resistance and the Enlightened.
While that may all sound like the recipe for yet another nerdy video game, the tech and effort required to actually play Ingress are really cool. Augmented-reality is the use of data-collecting tools such as microphones, cameras and GPS, to represent the world in a manner different than the way it actually is. Ingress agents use GPS to map their immediate surroundings and re-imagine it to appear as if beset by the otherworldly elements of the game.
Where most games require players to sit in front of their TV or computer monitor, Ingress requires its agents to actually get out into the world. On top of the fresh air, all agents play by the same rules and geographic constraints. There are no magic spells, catapults, cheat codes or jet packs to bail Ingressers out of tough situations. So due to the egalitarian nature of the game, Ingress requires agents to work together. Faction agents use Google Plus almost religiously to establish strategies to overtake Des Moines-area portals.
The downside to Ingress is that it’s crazy addictive. I’ve been playing for three weeks, and all hours of my day revolve around crushing the Resistance. So if you care about the augmented future of our great city, download Ingress, and join the Enlightened. We desperately need your help. CV
Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. For more tech insights, follow him on Twitter @ResponsiblyWild.