May. 20th, 2013

slycat: (Fursuit)
OK, I just had to write about this as it's been such a fun experience so far. To set the scene, on Saturday, I ended up meeting up with TKTiger and HedgeHog who were playing this game on their phone. They told me it was called Ingress and it was some kind of Augmented Reality game but I didn't really take a lot of notice. However once I got back to their place, I had a look into it and requested access to the game from the Ingress site. Within a few hours I had been granted access and could start playing and learn more about it.

So Ingress is a Google run Augmented Reality game which seems to intend to get it's players to explore places and see interesting stuff via the means of places or landmarks being turned into "portals" in the game. Obviously I'm a newbie so probably not getting all the details exactly right but basically in the game world, the portals are where energy flows into our world and two teams, The Enlightened and The Resistance have to control these portals to control the energy. You take control of the portals by "hacking" them using the mobile app (or "scanner") and can fire XMP at them to do damage. There's a lot more to it but you learn it all in the game.

I joined The Resistance as TK and Hedgie were on that side and it could be fun playing along. Southampton is pretty much entirely controlled by The Resistance but where I live was all controlled by The Enlightened and so I wanted to do something about it. There's quite a strong community behind the game and you can chat with people nearby within the game and so this evening I randomly asked if anyone wanted to help take my town over. To my surprise, one person said he'd come over and have a go but was pretty certain it would just get taken back again.

I watched on my screen as he started taking control of the portals which apparently is pretty easy to do when you're a high level but then someone from the opposing team noticed and started fighting back. It was rather impressive to watch as the drama unfolded but by the end of it, there were some portals owned by each team and some unclaimed at all.

Now, I had been looking for ways to get me out the house and walking a bit more. I had already got myself a FitBit which has been helping count my steps but this game had given me more incentive to get out the house and be a bit more active. Because there were unclaimed portals, I wanted to get out and go and claim them so after I had something to eat, I set out to have a go. However, it seemed I left it too late as I found that a guy on the opposing team had got there just before me. I figured I might as well continue "hacking" the portals as you get experience and can level up quicker. So I was doing that, trying to hit all the portals when I realised a bald chap with glasses was slowly walking with his phone looking at the screen and pausing occasionally just like I was. I looked over and he looked back knowingly and I said "are you playing this game?" turned out he was and it was the guy from the opposing team who had claimed all those portals I had hoped to get. Ended up chatting with him about the game, about how he was down from Coventry for work and enjoyed playing the game rather than being stuck in a hotel room all evening and ultimately had a nice chat with a stranger who I wouldn't normally have done. I'm scared of strangers so was pleasantly surprising for me to have a chat with someone at random like that! He did of course insist I had chosen the wrong team but said it in jest :D

After saying goodbye, I continued to hack the various portals and ended up going a much longer way home than usual to get one of the portals which is a bit out the way but by the end of it all, I had walked around 4000 steps more than I normally would have today which will certainly have helped with my daily exercise.

If you've an Android phone, I thoroughly recommend you check it out as it's a lot of fun and surprisingly social for something which is rather geeky!

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