Google’s New Augmented Reality/LBS Game: Ingress

Yes, I know, Ingres is a database once...but with two "s"s it's a game (one you need an invitation to, apparently). It's a game I don't really understand, but also a game for which I don't believe I'm the target market. Why? Well, here are some descriptions of it from John Henke, once lead geo guy at Google, who now heads Google's internal Niantic Labs from whence it came:

“The concept is something like World of Warcraft, where everyone in the world is playing the same game.” 

“You’re like a rat in a maze on the phone.”

“We were definitely inspired by JJ Abrams, but we don’t want to leave people in a ‘Lost’ situation where they get into the fiction of a world but then it never ends.”

What is the game?

  • There are two teams: “The Enlightened,” who embrace the power, or “The Resistance,” who fight the power.
  • You get "energy" by visiting real wold paths (like a human PacMan).
  • You go on missions to portals which are associated with real places like libraries, public art and onter public places.
  • There's a tie in to real world vendors and products (Hint Water, Zipcar, Jamba Juice and Chrome apparel and messenger bags).

The real question is why do this? I defer to Shaper_pmp who write on Reddit:

... it's very, very much about walking places... while carrying a GPS-enabled mobile device with a camera and accelerometer and wi-fi and mobile data connection built into it... while running their app that can report whatever it wants back to their servers and has to for you to be able to play the game. 

Players walk around footpaths and pedestrian routes that Google Maps currently doesn't cover well, and then as a reward they get to... walk around art installations, libraries and other large, pedestrian-only public areas. All the time the game client is reporting back to Google their position, speed and the like, so Google gets to build a massive database of popular pedestrian-accessible areas and common routes between and around them. It's genius.

Video afer the break.

- All Things D via @seangorman, and Reddit via Shack Atach


Published Monday, November 19th, 2012

Written by Adena Schutzberg