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OPLIN 4Cast #313: Ingress at the library?

Posted in 4cast

Ingress logoCome this time next week, thousands of people will be sitting at home playing with new video games. Some people, however, will be playing a different sort of game that requires them to move around outside, and you may even see some of these people wandering around your library. Google Ingress is an augmented reality game designed for Android phone users that was launched in late November. You may think folks are just taking pictures of your library with their smartphones, but in (augmented) reality, they’re playing a game.

  • The true meaning of Google Ingress (Social Media Optimization/Chris Warden)  “In a nutshell, the purpose of the game is for users to explore the physical world through the camera in their smart phone. Using augmented reality, users collect virtual currency pieces as they walk along pre-mapped paths, turning a leisurely stroll into a collection game similar to Pac-Man. These collectible items can be ‘cashed in’ at other real-world points of interest, such as sculptures, libraries, and public art murals.”
  • Google’s Ingress mobile game combines geo-caching, augmented reality, and puzzle games (MapDash blog/Jake Walnut)  “The most important aspect of the game consists of connecting things called portals. Portals spew the strange matter and are located in a variety of creativity-oriented public places – libraries, museums, and public parks are excellent spots to find them. Once you have used the app to find a portal – your screen will display a map that leads to it much like in StreetView – you are required to hack it. Hacking is just a fancy name for ‘checking in’ much like on Foursquare or Facebook.”
  • Can Google’s ‘Ingress’ game live up to its amazing viral marketing campaign? (Digital Trends/Andy Boxall)  “Exactly what it’s all about is still something of a mystery to those on the outside, but we know portals are discovered around your city and can be claimed for your team or attacked if they’re already owned by the enemy. But the game is almost inconsequential next to the storyline the team has built around it, one which owes more of a debt to sci-fi film and TV than it does to games, and goes way beyond standard mobile game marketing campaigns.”
  • Google game could be augmented reality’s first killer app (MIT Technology Review/Rachel Metz)  “I managed to capture two new portals at Yerba Buena Gardens—one at a statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. and another at the top of a waterfall—and link them together. Across the street, in front of the Contemporary Jewish Museum, I hacked an Enlightened portal and fired an XMP at it, weakening its resonators. I was then promptly attacked. I fled, figuring I wouldn’t be able to take down the portal by myself.”

Play fact:
Want to try Ingress yourself? You’ll need an Android smartphone, an invitation from the official website, and an app from the Google Play Store.