Alternate Reality Augmentation: Ingress

I’ve been geocaching for about three years now, and my habit has gone from obsessive cache hunter, through complex cache hider, to a quality-vs.-quantity social cacher. I love the combination of technology and nature. I also think the simplicity of the geocaching game framework gives support for a rich array of play styles. My students and I have been doing some survey research on classifying geocaching play styles, but that is a topic for a different post.

My experience as a geocacher, however, has led me to look at other kinds of activities that get people out and about, and somehow augment the world. That is when I found Ingress. This is an AR game, released in November 2012 and played on Android phones. The back story is about an invasive species that is trying to harness humans. Each player must join either “The Enlightenment” or “The Resistance.” Portals placed around the world (mostly near public art installations) can be accessed and occupied to harness power. Players can coordinate to pull off larger capture.

As with many MMO-type games, there are game structures for leveling, collectables, an inventory, and communication. It also takes some ideas from location-based games, like geocaching, because the player must physically visit locations to make progress.

Anyway, I just started playing a few days ago, and will post some more thoughts later. I do know several geocachers who have diverted much of their time they used to spend caching to playing Ingress.

Of course, I would LOVE to see an app for Glass for Ingress. I’m sure it is on the way, as Ingress was started by a subsidiary of Google.

More to come!

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