Today saw the launch of Googles popular augmented reality app ‘Ingress’ on Apple’s app store. For those not familiar with the game, including to some extent myself, here’s a brief layout of the gameplay.
Players physically travel to specific areas displayed on the in game map called portals. Portals can be ‘hacked’ to obtain items and experience to aid in capturing more portals. Two factions exist within Ingress, The Enlightened and The Resistance. The plot revolves around the two faction’s battle over the control of a substance called Exotic Matter which The Enlightened believe will modify the human race for the better. There is a continuing narrative which I know nothing about as of yet so feel free to visit the website for more detail.
I have a friend staying with me for a few weeks before he moves into his new Uni residence. Let’s call him Paul because that’s his name. Paul first became immersed in the Ingress universe about 8 months ago. I frequently joke about his commitment and persistence towards the admittedly geeky game but I also cannot deny the health benefits Ingress can reward its loyal following. The augmented real time setting of the game does force actual physical demand upon you. This isn’t a passing time on the toilet app. Paul will frequently leave my house in the morning with particular objectives in mind and arrive back in the evening to later receive notification that his hard work is under attack from the opposition. Potentially frustrating but it’s all part of the fun. Travelling frequently by foot or bicycle in this recent British heat is obviously physically testing but in turn hardly a burden when absorbed within Ingress’ gameplay. (Please refer to Simulacrum‘s blog for some interesting statistics relating to Ingress’ audience). Think of all that Vitamin D! Other leading apps are likely causing a resurgence of rickets, but Ingress intuitively avoids this, offering gamers a chance to explore their local area and potentially interact with other players. Paul has been on many a group Ingress excursion, travelling and hacking through a surprisingly large area of Southern England.
The occasional moments of tension crop up between the rivalling factions, but from an outsider’s perspective it’s all rather comical. The rivalry’s harmless, usually resulting in a sour faced individual staring intently into his smartphone before shuffling off defeated. Right now i’m hearing Attenborough narrate this with his soothing wisdom.
So what impact will today’s iOS port have upon the Ingress community? Surely these Apple rookies will lose enthusiasm when their early conquests are thwarted by the experienced android community. It all remains to be seen. Despite my girlfriend’s mocking, I have downloaded the iOS port and Paul has given me a brief tour to up my level. The weather’s beautiful, I got some much needed exercise and dropped off some items at the post office. I can already see the benefits, lets see if it lasts. The Resistance Calls!