Friday, April 10, 2015

Ingress

The world around you is not what it seems.
It's happening all around you.
They aren't coming.
They're already here.

A couple months ago I was recruited as an agent for the Resistance, a faction fighting for humanity's freedom from the Shapers, a mysterious alien race that aims to control the minds of those who are oblivious to their presence.



Ingress is an augmented reality game developed by Niantic Labs, a startup company within Google. Players (known in game as agents) download a scanner app which reveals that the world is teeming with "exotic matter," aka XM, which according to game lore was discovered alongside the Higgs Boson by CERN scientists. Some people believed that XM and the Shapers will guide us toward a new evolutionary age, and they formed the faction known as the Enlightened. Those of us who are wiser and more suspicious of the Shapers' activity have banded together in the Resistance.

We've discovered that dense XM clusters have formed around areas of importance -- landmarks, government buildings and schools, natural parks, and public art -- areas which are known to agents as "portals." Each faction is fighting to control portals and link them together to create triangular fields to score points (and save minds!). The game is GPS-based, and therefore gameplay is much like geocaching, while the battle for portals and fields simulates like a virtual game of capture-the-flag.


I've been enjoying Ingress for several reasons:

  1. The science fiction plot surrounding the game is so nerdy and fun to explain to people. What if there really is a mysterious alien race trying to control our thoughts?! Which side would you choose?!
  2. Since the game is GPS-based, it often requires you to get out of your car and physically walk around to access certain portals. This results in discovering new and interesting locations in town, while also doubling as a great exercise tool.
  3. Achievement badges. I'm a sucker for those things. The game awards you with several levels of badges for different tasks in game: hacking for gear, destroying and capturing enemy portals, walking a certain distance, discovering new portals, etc. Gotta collect em all!
  4. While the game can be played solo, the most rewarding part is socializing with other agents. By working together as a team, you can create larger fields for more points, help newer agents level up faster, and generally build camaraderie in a local community. At first I thought it was weird to meet up with some "strangers," but discovered that I now have several new friends who love gaming and are just as nerdy as I am! Now, I look forward to any opportunity to meet up and play with my fellow Resistance agents.
Are you ready to move?




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