Ingress is a game which gets you to walk around and stare at your cell-phone.
When I first had to explain to a friend what I was doing – when I literally bumped in to her because I wasn’t watching where I was going – it seemed kind of dopey:
“Yeah, it’s a game. You walk around the city and hack portals and collect XM”
“Uh-huh…. don’t get hit by a car!”
OK, even I can barely understand what the game is about. It’s a massively-multiplayer (think World of Warcraft) game with a spy/mystery type story tacked on to the side.
I say “tacked on” because absolutely no knowledge of the story or plot is required to play the game, and it’s unclear to me what the benefits of “following” the story even are. From what I gather, you can get clues, follow them, and eventually you’ll get some extra points or bonus powers or SOMETHING.
So what does the actual game entail? Well, throughout the world there are these portals placed by aliens that gather power and will eventually allow these aliens to invade earth.
It’s not clear, but the aliens may be coming to earth to deliver humanity-saving technology, and answer ultimate questions about peace and love and God; or they may be future overlords who’s only pleasure is derived from inflicting more and more devilish humiliation and utter debasement of the human race.
Your opinion that should influence what team you play for.
Nominally “enlightened” vs. “resistance”, the team is essentially Green vs. Blue.
Where I live, Hispter-butt Brooklyn – is full of trendy resistance fighters, and it’s a situation where the game really breaks down.
The problem is that, as a low level player, I am easily rolled over by powerful players, blasting down my portals or establishing ones with too much defense for me to succesfully attack.
The problem isn’t really isolated to the cultural proclivities of Brownstone Brooklynites, overall Resistance outnumber Enlightened by nearly 6:1.
A secondary but probably equally important issue: It’s freezing cold outside, and the game requires you to wander around with your cellphone.
I don’t have those fancy touchscreen-compatibile gloves, so my hands were reduced to freezing blocks while attempting to play.
All that being said, I did find myself getting in to the game temporarily. As a Enlightenment player, I dreamed of organizing with my follow players, storming neighborhoods with tactical raids, recapturing Brooklyn and then New York block-by-block.
But ultimately, my enthusiasm waned.
Unlike Foursquare, which rewards users with discounts, tips, and various badges and points for checking in frequently, Ingress does not reward the player simply for playing, unless you care about the arbitrary “mind units” that the game uses to keep track of who is winning and losing.
There is some hope – the Duane Reade partnership which debuted on Jan 29th did change the game up a bit by rewarding powerful items to those who found the secret sticker in each location.
Chatter on the Ingress Intel Map [http://www.ingress.com/intel
] and on the twitter hashtag #IngressDR was up, the most frequent word I saw was “whoa” – and wouldn’t you know, the Enlightened had recaptured a significant portion of Brooklyn and downtown Manhattan where I work (you seem to get better items by ‘hacking’ portals controlled by your faction, so I was finally getting some decent items myself).
As an alternative to in-game ads, I would rather stop in a drug store like DR (when I might already need a cold soda or Funyons anyhow) than have my phone display some ad – I only wish that like Foursquare, you could also unlock discounts and deals, or be given bonuses for visiting places over a wide area, rather than the places near my home and work.
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