Early last year, Google’s Niantic Labs has created a massively multiplayer augmented reality game called “Ingress”. But what does the word “ingress” mean? Ingress is defined as an entrance, a place or means of access to something. Niantic’s “Ingress” is a mystery game where players try to seize control of the world for their faction (The Enlightened or The Resistance). To do this, players must physically move to key points called “portals” around the area and use their GPS-enabled Android devices to capture these points. There happen to be two on the campus, one at the post office and another at the welcome sign by the front entrance. As of now, “Ingress” is in closed beta.
The significance of this game is greater than what meets the eye. Since the game uses GPS to track player location and with so many players all over the world, Google has created an information goldmine. They will be able to track where people visit most often every time they use the app. Players will be able to submit where portals should be, allowing Google to discover new popular local hangouts or important installations through the game.
“Ingress” seems that it could be quite a popular game, if some balancing were to be applied to the game. As fun as the game seems, the issue of privacy is one that may be of concern to the player. I have noticed that many people have issues with privacy when it comes to large entities such as Facebook or Google. Google may be using this augmented reality to aid themselves in their research, but would the average player be concerned about that? What would you think if Google used data about your location from a game for purposes beyond the game? Is Google expanding its empire too much?
Though some people may be concerned about their privacy, I find that this game is quite revolutionary. Though probably not the first of its kind, “Ingress” certainly gets players outside and in the real world. “Ingress” gets people involved and active. It is a game that captivates people, removing them from the confinement of the indoors, and makes them interact in reality. “Ingress” is a game for the more adventurous of heart. It can take players to places they wouldn’t normally have visited, such as museums players didn’t think about. “Ingress” may spark the curiosity of the world around it. However, there is more to the world than just games and “Ingress” may become that tool of discovery, our own ingress to the world.