Several months ago my husband started playing a mobile game called Ingress*. Unbeknownst to me, he signed me up to start playing it as well. If you’re not familiar with it, Ingress is an augmented reality game (still in Beta) created by the folks at Google**, under the Niantic Labs Division. It’s like a combination of Capture the Flag and Risk and utilizes the GPS on your smartphone.
Some backstory for the game: The Niantic Project is an operation run by the NIA (National Intelligence Agency), whose goal is to explore and do research on a new energy found on Earth. This energy is called exotic matter (XM) and can be found at portals in cities around the world. These (publicly accessible) portals can be anything from murals to art sculptures to historical buildings to unique local businesses.
There are two schools of thought regarding this new, possibly alien, energy. The Enlightened want to harness and study XM in order to advance humanity. The Resistance want to protect humanity from XM, fearing that it will cause humans harm.
Now for the fun part. After doing some tutorials and deciding which faction you’d like to join (I’m an Enlightened agent), you head out into the real world and start actually playing. Your main objective as an agent, in the simplest sense, is to CAPTURE ALL THE PORTALS. There are other things you can do like link portals and create fields and such, which also help you level up, but capturing all the portals is key in helping your faction achieve global domination. *Cue evil laugh*
One of the things that I really enjoy about Ingress, other than destroying and capturing an enemy portal, is that it gets me outside exploring different parts of Oahu. I love discovering all the pieces of art and points of interest that I never knew existed prior to playing the game. There is so much history and culture right outside our doorsteps and most days we just pass it by without a second thought. Other awesome things about playing Ingress: You do A LOT of walking. Getting fit while playing a game? Good deal. And although you can play Ingress solo, it is more efficient and way more fun to play with a group.
*Currently only available for Android users.
**At Google I/O 2013 Brandon Badger hosted a panel called Ingress: Design Principles Behind Google’s Massively Multiplayer Geo Game.
Photo Credit: Arbine Villanueva-Hoapili