I had only just learned about the Shapers, but I knew they couldn’t be trusted. So I joined The Resistance — a group working to protect humanity from these unknown beings. An eager recruit, I turned on my scanner to see what I could do. My stomach dropped immediately. The skies were green. My parents’ house was underneath an Enlightened field. The scanner showed a portal at a church several blocks away. “That’s it,” I thought to myself. “I’ll just attack the portal and the field will fall.”
As I walked to the church, my heart raced. “This isn’t a game,” the briefing had said. The words echoed in my mind. I needed to protect my parents from the Enlightened XM field surrounding their home. I needed to do my part to save the world from being used by the Shapers.
What is Ingress?
Ingress is a GPS-based, augmented reality game developed by Niantic Labs, a division of Google. I’ve often heard it described as a mix between geo-caching and capture the flag, or like a real life game of RISK.
According to the game lore, researchers at CERN discovered a new type of energy they dubbed “exotic matter” or XM. They discovered that XM was left behind by mysterious beings called Shapers. Some people, the Enlightened, believe that the use of XM will help bring humanity into a new age of evolution. Others, the Resistance, work to protect humanity as we do not know the Shapers’ intentions.
As human civilization developed, we were drawn to areas of high XM concentrations. So now many landmarks, important buildings, and works of public art are located near XM clusters called “portals.” In game, each team is looking to capture as many portals as they can. When an Enlightened agent takes a portal, it turns from neutral/gray to green; when a Resistance agent captures a portal, it turns blue.
After capturing three portals, Ingress agents can link them together in a triangular field. This is how the game is scored. Each control field is awarded a certain number of mind units (MUs), which is approximately proportionate to the population contained within the field. So, many high level agents have worked together to make control fields that cross statelines, national borders, or even across continents.
More Than Just a Game
I am currently obsessed with Ingress. By playing a mini-game on each portal wherein I have to replicate a set of flashing glyphs, I can get more in-game gear such as weapons, portal mods, or the resonators needed to capture and strengthen portals. Thus, my fifteen-minute commute has turned into an hour each night as I make the rounds through a “portal farm.”
I’ve only been playing Ingress for a few months, but it’s already made an impact on my daily life. I’m a bit of a homebody (introvert that I am), and have rarely gone out to explore the town I’ve lived in for the past two years. By playing Ingress, I’ve discovered so many places I didn’t know about before — little parks, special monuments, and the like. Furthermore, for the first time in a long time, I have motivation to exercise! Now I frequently go out walking, hiking, jogging, biking — anything to get to a new portal or create some control fields.
While I play Ingress every day and am currently on the brink of hitting level 7, I’m still very much a casual player. I mainly stick to the same portals, recharging resonators and playing the glyph hacking mini-game. Others however, go out of their way to explore new portals and create massive control fields. The more I read about Ingress, the more I hear about the wonderful community that has sprung up among the agents. In addition to working together in-game, many get together just to hang out (such as at First Saturday events) and will go out of their way to help other agents in need. While I am mainly a solo player, the times I have gone out with other agents have been an absolute blast. I’m currently planning to try and participate in one of the large-scale, cross-faction events known as Anomalies, as there will be one in the midwest (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) this summer. Should be a lot of fun!
Join me! (Join the Resistance!)
Ingress is such a fun and unique experience. There really is nothing quite like it. It should come as no surprise then (especially given this incredibly long post) that I highly recommend this game. The app is available on Android and iOS devices, but the game itself… is everywhere.
The cold, February air nipped at my skin as I made my way to the church. As people passed by me on the sidewalk, I was filled with suspicion. Was this lady the Enlightened agent who owned the portal? Was this young couple on patrol, looking out for Resistance agents like me?
I arrived at the church. The portal gave off an eerie sound as I got in range. It was like the sound of a finger circling the rim of a wine glass. I looked around. No Enlightened agents in sight. No …frogs. I fired an XMP. 1% damage to the portal resonators. And the portal retaliated. I saw my scanner drained of energy as the portal defended itself.
I fired another XMP. The portal fired back.
This went on a few times until it finally dawned on me — there was no way I was taking down this portal. I was a Resistance recruit on my first mission. A day-old, level one smurf. The resonators on the portal, however, were level six to level eight. I was doing a completely insignificant amount of damage. Defeated, I made my way back to my parents house. As I passed people on the sidewalk, I was filled with shame. Was this guy responsible for the frog-green field above our heads? How could I ever compete with him? What could I even do to help the Resistance? How could I possibly believe that I could save the world?
I had a long way to go.
TO BE CONTINUED…