For those who missed the conversation earlier this year, Ingress is a game you play in the real world. Rather than playing a game on a screen, or even a large grassy field, it’s a game where the whole world is your playground. Or should I say battleground? For in the game, two factions, the Resistance and the Enlightened, are battling for control of all of the cultural and historical landmarks around you. Using mobile devices to display game data, “agents” of each faction physically visit each location to strengthen or change which side controls it.
It’s a game with no end – and almost no point. Many locations, or “portals”, change hands several times a day, and it’s often the same players doing the changing. If there is a point, it’s not in the game itself, but in what happens when you play the game. At its simplest, the game can be played individually, to achieve individual achievements and levels. But because it’s played across all of Canberra, Australia, and the world, Ingress is an opportunity to meet people from everywhere – make new friends, build new networks – some players have even formed new relationships. It’s also a chance to visit new places and discover cultural and historical treasures that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.
Last, but not least, it’s a game that can get you, or even your whole family, off the couch on a regular basis, and racking up hundreds – even thousands – of kilometres of walking, cycling, or exploring around your area. The game keeps track of your physical activity: my own stats show I’ve walked over 1200km playing the game since October last year; 45km of that over the last 7 days. It might not seem like much to some; but for a desk-bound office worker like me, being motivated to do that kind of activity after dark, in the middle of winter, speaks a lot about the health benefits of the game. I’ve made some terrific friends with other players, and we regularly get together to play as well as simply to socialise.
The biggest downside to date has been that many of my existing friends and family haven’t been able to join in on all of this fun, or reap the benefits of playing, simply because the game was launched on Android only, with iPhone users left out of the action.
But weep no more! For today, Niantic Labs, a Google startup company and the developers of Ingress, have finally released Ingress for iOS devices, allowing a whole swathe of new users to participate in the Ingress community. It coincides with a massive change of in-game dynamics, which has made portals significantly easier to capture for new players – so there hasn’t been a better time to join the game since… well, since the beginning of the game!
All that’s left is for you to decide which of the two factions to ally yourself with. I am aligned with the blue team, or “Resistance”, who (in the game’s story) are fighting to protect humanity from the mind-controlling forces of aliens known as “Shapers”. The green team is working to advance the influence of these aliens over humanity. If you’re into game lore, then I’d encourage you to join the Resistance, and help us prevent the influence of alien mind control over the nation’s leaders, here in Canberra! In the process, you will earn our internationally-acclaimed “medals” for in-game achievements – exclusive to the Canberra Resistance.
Another reason to join the Resistance are to help us restore balance to the game. The first RiotACT post on Ingress early this year attracted hordes of new players to the Enlightened, and a couple of months ago, the game logs indicated that active green players outnumbered us more than two-to-one. The Enlightened have dominated Canberra with a slimy fist for months now with as much as 90% ownership of the portals in Canberra a few weeks ago; so I’d encourage new players to join the Resistance, and help us restore balance to the game – and by doing so, make the game more fun for both factions.
Finally, we of the Canberra Resistance are a great bunch of people from diverse backgrounds. We have amazingly talented players; brilliantly intelligent ones; incredibly good-looking agents; and even a few who claim they’re all three.
So whether you want to get fit, meet new friends, see new places, help us restore the balance in Canberra, or just have heaps of fun – come and join us at the Canberra Resistance: http://canberra.shaperdefence.net/. Alternatively, if you’d like to join the Enlightened, get in touch with them here: firstname.lastname@example.org.