Saturday, February 20, 2016

Ingress: Augmented Reality For All

By TJL-2080™

Much has already been written about Ingress, the augmented reality "game" from Niantic Labs, formerly a division of Google, that pits "Agents" around the world against each other in a massive game of Capture the Flag. Although it has been around for over three years, and I have been playing for two, I haven't written much about it.

The basic structure of Ingress is that real life points of interest are portals of energy, "Exotic Matter" that seeps into our world from... somewhere, sent by... someone. Aliens? The government? Nobody knows, but the Exotic Matter does things to people. It is somewhat like the pills in "Limitless." People exposed to Exotic Matter become smarter, more creative, and sometimes insane.

Agents choose to play for a team. The Resistance (Blue) feel that Exotic Matter is mind control and a conspiracy. The Enlightened (Green) believe that the Shapers have sent Exotic Matter to enhance humanity and usher in a new era. Whichever faction you choose is your faction for good. It can't be changed. I play for the Enlightened, obviously.

There is a lot of back story and weekly videos are sent to the players to keep them informed of the twists and turns. But the player does not need to be aware of any of this to play Ingress.

The best part is that Ingress can not be played from your couch. Agents need to physically move about in the real world, go to a point of interest and capture it for their team. The app keeps track of kilometers walked and other details and rewards the player with medals and other goodies.

We at Future/Culture love Ingress and the idea that augmented reality is able to bring entire communities of people from around the globe together for a pretty fun game.

Below is a video that describes the game better.

Oh, and choose Enlightened!