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Google fans the augmented reality fire with Ingress

Google fans the augmented reality fire with Ingress

Augmented reality combines real life with virtual environments

Ingress game in action

XM can be located via your handset.

Augmented reality—taking virtual elements and overlaying them on top of real life—is becoming quite the frontier for new and innovative ways of gaming. Exploring the ever-narrowing divide between the real and the imaginary, augmented reality games are taking us one step closer to wearable heads-up displays and completing the ultimate alternate-reality experience. And after flirting with augmented reality for some time now, Google has taken the next step with Ingress, a sci-fi conspiracy theory-heavy AR game for Android handsets developed by Google’s Niantic Labs.

Exact details about Ingress are few and far between, but for good reason. After all, no conspiracy-centric story readily gives away its secrets—not without a price and some groundwork, anyways. In this case, players must literally hit the streets to scope out sources of “exotic matter”, a mysterious and recently-occurring phenomenon. XM can then be taken to premiere public locations such as cultural landmarks and museums, where portals can be opened to unlock missions. Players can then choose the faction they wish to aid: the Enlightened, who wish to cultivate and use XM, or the Resistance that would prefer XM eradicated. All the while, society is under threat of mind control and shady agencies.

Portals activate with XM

Portals activate with XM, advancing your objectives.

It’s worth mentioning that Ingress is certainly not the first AR game to hit the masses. While it may very well be one of the largest in scope, much smaller games have popped up in living rooms over the past few years. Most examples use printed cards with special markers that cameras track, overlaying 3D characters and environments on top of the video footage on a display. One such example are the AR games included with the Nintendo 3DS handheld game system, which allows players to “look” around virtual environments that pop out of special cards placed on a playing surface.

Currently, Ingress is in beta testing mode. Those interested in participating in the beta can request an invite over at the official Ingress website. While it is not directly stated, considering the urban environments shown in the trailer (below), the game may be limited to those living in major metropolitan areas. Even if this is true, Ingress gives us a wonderful look ahead at what AR games can really do with a grander scale.


  1. Creeperbane2
    Creeperbane2 Yay finally I can see the world as a video game and have it not be a hallucination.
  2. CrazyJoe
    CrazyJoe I got an invite to Ingress today. Anyone else on IC playing?
  3. primesuspect
    primesuspect I have it but I haven't really had the opportunity to check it out yet
  4. Ilriyas
    Ilriyas I got an invite, probably going to get some use out of it when I get back to uni. All I've done so far is look at the screen.
  5. Annes
    Annes Still waiting for my invite. Little bummed it hasn't come yet.
  6. Thrax
    Thrax I got an invite months ago, then realized I don't want to go outside to play a game on my phone. I promptly uninstalled it.
  7. CB
    CB I'd want to try it, but every location-based game/app I try is useless around here. There is simply never enough participation. Maybe if I lived downtown...
  8. vaderisahottie

    I'm a little late to the party, but does anyone around here play?

  9. primesuspect

    @TroubleBaker was playing for a while but I think she stopped a few months ago

  10. Hero

    I just saw this, and think I'll try it out.

    My codename shall be XGPHero. What faction are you joining?

  11. ardichoke

    @primesuspect said:
    TroubleBaker was playing for a while but I think she stopped a few months ago

    Seems to be the modus operandi. The game gets old really quickly... and it's not even that fun if you don't

    A) Live in a major metropolitan city
    B) Have copious amounts of time and gas money to drive all over

  12. Hero

    Yeah, I don't have any portals within 10km of me...at best it will be something I pull up once in a while when I'm out and about, and have a bored moment.

  13. primesuspect

    @ardichoke said:
    A) Live in a major metropolitan city
    B) Have copious amounts of time and gas money to drive all over

    She had both AND C) A community of people to play with (the Wayne State & Detroit Ingress scene is pretty big) and STILL got bored with it. She got a new phone and never installed it when she moved over.

  14. Hero

    I'm thinking I might have more fun when I'm back in long beach. I like cruising second street and I just know there will be plenty of activity there

  15. ardichoke

    Yeah, I sort of had A.... and I had C, since a bunch of my former coworkers played. Still lacked in time and gas money though... and the whole game was too repetitious and slooooow.

  16. Hero

    I got out of the house to run some errands today, and took some time out to play, and had fun. It actually got me checking out things just didn't know existed, like an art market(I was truly shocked to find an "art district" in a town like kountze Texas), and a historical museum. The game actually led me to discover that the backward place I have lived for the last year and a half might not be so backward after all. They actually had some really nice art exhibits and store fronts. Plus I reached lvl 2. :mullet:

  17. vaderisahottie

    @XGPHero, my name is sweetiebud3 and I am with the Resistance.

  18. vaderisahottie

    I see what everyone is talking about in concerns to the gas and driving around.

  19. Hero

    @vaderisahottie, I'm enlightened...oh well

    EDIT: I just realized I missed a golden opportunity for a Swingers reference...damn...I'll do it anyway. It should have read...
    You can call me Voltaire.

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