So, our good friend (and Bridal Henchman!) Anna introduced us to a new game two weeks ago…

The world around you is not what it seems.

Ingress (in case you don’t play already) is…

“…an augmented reality massively multiplayer online role pglaying GPS-dependent game created by Naintic Labs, a startup within Google,”

..according to Wikipedia.

As with most of these games, there is a complex story behind the game, which is a huge part of it’s appeal. The cool thing about this game, though, is that it is developing in real time. Since you aren’t sitting on a couch playing the game (unless you have a couch portal like we do!), you don’t absorb the game story linearly as you play on your device, as you would a movie. It’s all very  revelatory, as if you’re discovering more about this mysterious “Niantic Project” as you play. What is exotic matter? Who are the Shapers??

Part The Matrix, part Capture the Flag, Ingress pits two “factions,” The Resistance (boooooo!!!), and the Enlightened (yayyyyy!) against one another in a war to control “Portals” where “exotic matter,” an alien energy source, enters the world.  This exotic matter or “XM” is believed to be capable of a kind of mind control or a human evolution, depending on what faction you’re in.

These portals are planted by users at physical locations based on a set of guidelines set by the game designers. Inspired by the back-story, these portals are generally set on historic sites, public artwork, cultural centers, places of worship, etc. Inspired by the sensitivities of the real world, they are prohibited near schools or on private property.

You can install virtual hardware on these portals to enhance the transmission of XM and defend the portal from the enemy team. Additionally, you can “hack” these portals to obtain items useful in the game. You obtain points for accomplishing different things in the game which allow you to achieve a higher level.

It takes several hours of gameplay to achieve enough points to level-up. I’ve been playing a week and I’m at a level 5, if that tells you anything about how obsessed I am with this game.

Beyond the practicalities of regular game-play, the creators of Ingress have had a lot of fun writing a companion story to keep story-lovers like Holly and me really engaged. You can check out this material online at The Niantic Project.

You can download the game for both Android and iPhone. If you do choose to play, make sure you join the right faction…

Resistance is futile, you will be Enlightened.