I honestly didn’t know what I was signing up for when I applied for beta access to Ingress. I was mostly just curious to see what Google was up to. As it turns out, Ingress is much cooler than anything I could have imagined.
I started playing Ingress in December and here’s what I’ve learned so far:
1. Don’t try to explain it
You can’t! The people I’ve tried to explain it too look at me like I have two heads. You’ll come across as geekier than you really are. You can show them and they might get. I showed my wife and I was actually surprised that she thinks it’s cool. Either that or she was just pretending to be interested. I think the easiest way to explain it is to just tell them Google created a game that’s sort of a scavenger hunt that uses Google Maps and leave it at that or point them to the video.
2. Rednecks are going to love it
As long as they have a smartphone and can get internet connection, they’re going to love this game. They’re going to join the Resistance like me because no redneck could ever be in favor of mind control. Same reason I joined the Resistance! When my cousins in West Virginia get hold of this game, watch out Enlightened! They’ll be making trips to the city just to open up a can of whoopass on you.
3. You CAN get there from here
I wish Ingress would have been around when I first moved to Montgomery County. I’ve learned there are more than 2 ways to get from here to Frederick and I actually know where Hyattstown, Boyds, Poolesville and Darnestown are! They’re not just exits of of I270. And some of them have a lot of history. Thanks to Ingress I now know all the back roads in Montgomery and Frederick County. If DC is ever evacuated, I’ll know how to get out of town other than taking 270 or 66 or 50.
4. Don’t trust anyone
If/when this opens up to iOS, I’m going to be paranoid of everyone. The Leap Frog statue near Gunner’s Lake in Germantown is the first portal I submitted that was accepted by Niantic. Once, when visiting to recharge “my portal”, two guys were hanging out on the bridge directly in front of the statue. They were both talking and looking at their phones. I noticed they were both using Android phones. I couldn’t think of any other reason they’d be lingering around there (almost dark and 35 degrees) other than to destroy my L6 single-portal farm (it’s level 6 thanks to the help of Level 8 Resistance agents FiletoFish and Tolianych). I walked past the portal, recharging it as I walked by and continued for another 300-400 yards before turning around to make another pass. I was hoping to guys would be gone. But they were still there. I again walked past them (and “my” portal”) and returned to my house just a short walk away. I didn’t have a key to recharge the portal remotely but I watched the intel map for hours, expecting it to be destroyed and captured. It never happened. But I realized now I could no longer call myself a casual player and I could never trust anyone.
5. Playing games can be healthy
I sit in a chair for a living. It’s unhealthy. I go to the gym two days a week and when the weather’s nice, I walk around Gunner’s Lake several times per week. Ingress has motivated me to get out of my chair much more. Regardless of the weather or other excuses. I’ve more than doubled the number of steps I take per day according to my Fitbit. Normally, after dropping my daughter off at day care, I go directly back to my desk and plop down for 3 hours. Now, after I drop my daughter off, I walk from her day care provider to my Leap Frog portal (about 2000 steps round trip). It only takes 10 minutes and a least I have a little bit of exercise before my day in a chair begins. Some days I might get up out of my chair two or three times to go farm my portal.
6. Google is Going To Make Money
I don’t care it Google uses the data I create by walking or driving around playing Ingress. Of course they’re going to try to monetize it. All of the cool free stuff Google creates has some benefit to Google. I’m ok with it if Google eventually starts throwing up some ads. I might even like it if I get an offer for a Starbucks coffee when I’m walking around Bethesda or Frederick. Google’s also going to benefit or make money indirectly. They’re certainly going to use Ingress data to improve Google Maps/Places. It’s already helped them drive new users to Google+. Rumor has it they might use Ingress to help launch or be a feature on Google Glass. Depending on the price, I might even buy a pair. Google just started selling official Ingress merchandise. Here where I think there might be huge potential. What if you or your business could purchase virtual weapons or other Ingress goodies and use them as incentives for visiting your business? Buy Lunch at Five Guys, Get a Free L8 XMP! Would you do it? I would!
What have you learned or observed from playing Ingress?