Friends started playing Ingress and invited us to join them on the losing team (Enlightened). I leaped at the chance, of course.

Ingress is a Google-made augmented reality game, which is to say you use your mobile device to interact with your environment. The gameplay looks minimal. It is Foursquare or geocaching with a sci fi theme: you collect and deploy “exotic material” at “portal” landmarks, seizing control for your faction.

It is useful data collection for Google. Its energy mechanic is “go for a walk,” which is a good thing, and it encourages you to go see the sites of your neighborhood with your friends. There is not a lot of there there, but the local weather just surged above freezing, and I could use the nudge to go walk a few kilometers. Most of our games encourage less healthy habits.

The neighborhood around my workplace is a hotbed of Resistance activity. Sadly, I don’t think I can take this thing on vacation and link from my workplace to Disney World. Not many portals in your area? Great, Google would like you to establish your own so it has pictures and walking maps of your local landmarks.

: Zubon

Naturally, folks have long since worked out how to fake GPS coordinates wherever you like. Get rid of that pesky walking, exploration, etc.

One thought on “Ingress”

  1. A game developer friend got me into Ingress when I was at a convention. I joined the Enlightened side, too, because she was on that team. When I got home, I found out that the Enlightened were a highly organized force in my area. This added a lot to the game.

    Soloing will only be so entertaining. The game really comes alive when you coordinate with your team in the area. Using Hangouts is a natural tool since Ingress is only available on Android currently.

    The big thing I’m not fond of with Ingress is how impermanent it’s designed to be. There’s no real motivation for you to take and hold a portal other than pride. In fact, as you’re leveling up you kind of hope people take your portals so you can take them back. I wish there were some motivation for people to keep portals claimed. Even then higher level people will just pwn your hard work with a few high level XMP bursters.

    And that exponential power curve! It means that at low levels you truly feel like a scrub darting between the actions of giants. About level 5 you stop feeling helpless, but you aren’t quite superheroic yet. This is a PvP game, so you need to get to max level before you can truly play on an even field.

    Oh, and do take your phone on vacation. You can still hack portals and make links/fields. You can’t link back home, but you can have some fun while on the road and gain levels.

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