So for the last eight months or so I’ve been playing a game on Android called Ingress. For those that don’t know, Ingress is basically a GPS capture the flag where opposing teams fight over “Portals” and collect XM (Exotic Matter).
Ingress is a near-real time augmented reality massively multiplayer online pervasive game created by Niantic Labs, a start up within Google, currently for Android devices, but, expected to be available for Apple’s iOS in 2014. The game has a complex science fiction back story with a continuous open narrative.
The gameplay consists of establishing “portals” at places of public art, landmarks, cenotaphs, etc., and linking them to create virtual triangular fields over geographic areas. Progress in the game is measured by the number of Mind Units, i.e. people, nominally controlled by each faction (as illustrated on the Intel Map). The necessary links between portals may range from meters to kilometers, or to hundreds of kilometers in operations of considerable logistical complexity. International links and fields are not uncommon, as Ingress has attracted an enthusiastic following in cities worldwide amongst both young and old, to the extent that the gameplay is itself a lifestyle for some.
Well that was very non-specific. It continues…
The game makers’ framing device for the game is as follows: Earth has been seeded with “Exotic Matter,” or XM, associated with the Shapers, a mysterious phenomenon or alien race which is neither described nor seen (and which thus functions as a MacGuffin). The in-universe motivation for the Enlightened [aka frogs] faction is their belief that the Shapers are working toward a powerful enlightenment which will uplift all mankind. The Resistance [aka smurfs] believes that it is protecting humanity from Shaper ingression. The factions have, however, been occasionally observed to ignore the back-story and to co-operate for the sake of real-life gameplay and game balance, for example by establishing neutral zones and rules of engagement.
Alright then. TBH, there is a HUGE backstory to the game and I recommend giving it a read, though it is constantly being updated through gameplay and events (Anomalies). You can find the whole story here. I really love this game because it makes you go OUTSIDE and meet new people!
When I first started playing, I decided to choose the side of the Enlightened. The side that embraces knowledge from the shapers and exotic matter. The team that would let one better themselves – according to the story.
I posted on G+ that I had joined and started playing, and then members of the local Enlightened community reached out to me. I’m so glad they did. Our team is a tight knit group than can organize an op, play together, hang out OUTSIDE of Ingress, and just have fun. They are some of the best people I’ve met and I’m glad to have made such friends. I’m really sad about leaving them behind when the hubster and I move this Spring.
Speaking of the hubster, I actually started playing while he was overseas (and still on an iPhone – HA!) I told him so much about the game that it finally made him switch over to Android! Now he plays the game. He’s also on the Enlightened team. And yes he had a choice.
The smurfs in our area are very unorganized and have too many rogue agents. They don’t co-operate in cross-faction events and they get ten kinds of butthurt if someone takes their portals. Last time I checked that was part of the game. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few of them in the area who are actually pretty cool – but I know even they get frustrated with some of their “teammates”. We joke and tell them they should just join our side – though they really should. 😉
All I know is that I have had more fun and gotten out more playing this “game” than I ever would have while the husband was overseas if I hadn’t. I have a bad habit of becoming a hermit if I’m left alone so this has been a fantastic step away from that.
Now I just need to meet up with Gulf Coast Enlightened agents and see if we can do some good as Level 8’s when we get there. I keep checking the map – there are far too many Resistance players in that area.
And in case anyone is interested: You can find me on Ingress as Agent RogueX42