The world around you is not what it seems

I’ve been wasting a little time over the past few days playing the virtual reality game Ingress, which was recently released for the iPhone (previously it ran only on Android).

This game has the unique feature that the field of play is the entire world, the actual real word, with virtual elements superimposed. So to play the game you have to get out and walk around (or sometimes drive in my neck of the woods where the portals are further apart). I like this aspect of it a lot. (The friend who recommended it said that she’s walking a lot more since she started playing it.)

I won’t go into the backstory in depth, as you can read about it, but I’ll mention that I’m playing on the blue team (the Resistance), just in case anyone would like to join me sometime.

I’m still at the lower levels where I can’t actually do a heck of a lot, but I’m working my way up. I’ll know how much I like it later, when I’ve had a chance to sample real game play. At the early levels, you most discover portals, “hack” them to get goodies, and set up resonators to bind the portals to your side when the opportunity arises. The portals are connected to various points of interest around town (players can submit suggestions for new portals, although that feature isn’t on the iPhone version yet.

I just spent a half hour learning more than I ever wanted to know about the memorials on the Waltham Common (why is there a memorial to Dag Hammarskjold?), but because of the density there, I was able to get my level up from 2 to 3 fairly quickly.

When you get stronger, you can start stealing portals away from the other side, and set up areas of control. Here’s a map of the territory around Lincoln. I am sad to say that the other side has occupied the site of Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond.

Ingress Intel Map


And here’s what a denser area looks like (the Waltham Common):

Waltham Intel Map


I did some scanning and there are portals almost everywhere on earth, so if you’ve got an Android or an iPhone, you can probably play. The game app is free. (And yes, it’s been pointed out that Google is probably using this to mine tons of data on where things are and how people interact with them, but I’m not losing sleep over that. Your mileage may vary.)

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