Ingress: When Reality and Gaming Collide

Keep getting glared at for using your cellphone in public? Perhaps they suspect you of trying to steal their minds. Ingress is everywhere.

Keep getting glared at for using your cellphone in public? Perhaps they suspect you of trying to steal their minds. Ingress is everywhere.
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A strange phenomenon has been creeping into my social media. Frequent hashtags and references to something called Ingress kept appearing on G+, Facebook and Twitter. Was it an organisation, a game or an internet meme?

My curiosity piqued, I consulted the oracle of all knowledge, Google. I found the above video, which further intrigued me, it seemed to be a secret cabal of mobile gamers who were locked in some territorial battle that was virtually linked to real world environments.

Further examination of the Ingress site found it to be ‘by invite’ only. I’ve now come to realise that Ingress is an ARG (Augmented Reality Game) for the Android OS. The beguiling marketing campaign and the exclusive nature of what simply turned out to be an open beta displayed some imagination. 

It seems invited players can join one of two factions, The Enlightened or The Resistance, who are locked in a battle for the minds of everyone on Earth. The player must use the Ingress map client to locate and capture portals linked to real world locations. The central conceit being that the player is required to physically travel to the locations in order to interact with the ARG portal.

Multiple captured portals can be linked, creating a control field. In doing so territory is gained by the faction and control of the population centres and the minds of the occupants within is the prize. Exotic Matter can be collected in a kind of real world Pac-Man game mechanic and then used as a kind of currency to assist in the acquisition of equipment to assist in the capture and defence of portals.

Ingress sounds like a kind of confusing craziness that sits somewhere between a strategy MMO and a dating site. As a gaming concept it’s certainly an exciting glimpse of a possible future where we are no longer restricted to our homes and can enjoy our digital entertainment, get some exercise and meet new people.

Welcome to the future.

Source: Ingress Website

About the author

Mat Westhorpe

Broken paramedic and coffee-drinking Englishman whose favourite dumb animal is an oxymoron. After over a decade of humping and dumping the fat and the dead, my lower spine did things normally reserved for Rubik's cubes, bringing my career as a medical clinician to an unexpectedly early end. Fortunately, my real passion is in writing and given that I'm now highly qualified in the art of sitting down, I have the time to pursue it. Having blogged about video games (well, mostly EVE Online) for years, I hope to channel my enjoyment of wordcraft and my hobby of gaming into one handy new career that doesn't involve other people's vomit.