Ingress is into its third month and if any other relatively-mainstream bloggers are covering the story I haven’t seen it, so this for the record if nothing else. There are strains showing; but interesting developments also. To start with: as of today, Jan. 29, every Zipcar and Jamba Juice location is an Ingress portal, it seems; which feels to me like a news story.
Personal History · When I came back to Vancouver from Christmas on the Prairies, it turned out that a few of us had been away and the Green team had pretty well overrun the city. Lots of targets makes for good fun, and good fun was had, I was out on quite a few evenings, and occasionally envied those without kids and/or jobs who could play by daylight.
On a few occasions I ended up driving around, late at night, with other players, chatting about the game and life, addressing each other, face to face, by our in-game names. Odd but oddly friendly.
Then our side increasingly prevailed and there were fewer targets and therefore less fun.
Then I went to London on business and stayed in a flat kitty-corner to Buckingham Palace, which turned out to be in a sprawling green stronghold.
I had some serious Ingress fun, but since I was there to work, and the best part of the work was hanging with geeks over dinner and beers, I didn’t have it till after last call. Unfortunately London was freezing but fortunately I’m Canadian and equipped for that. The only real downside of playing late was that I didn’t get to meet any other London players in the flesh. I was close to Level 7 when I got there, and it took about 15 minutes to level up once I buckled down.
The local greens were pretty assiduous at trying to piece together what I ripped up. An important portal, and one close to my digs, was the back gate of Buck palace, where I guess what you’d call the downstairs staff go in and out. I got some funny looks from the guards while I was pulverizing portals but I imagine they’ll get used to it if they haven’t already.
Anyhow, I got to see some rather odd parts of London and made a noticeable difference in the local arena, I think.
But I haven’t played since I got home, because my side won here in Vancouver and there are few interesting targets.
The Big Ingress Problem · It’s that imbalance accretes; when one side gets seriously ahead in a local arena it can be very hard for the other to recover. This is being hotly discussed in all the places where people discuss Ingress, which is to say mostly on G+; the new “private communities” are just the thing for factional plotting.
And of course inside the Niantic Project, but that is opaque.
It’s actually not obvious where the best fix to the problem should come from: the game-makers or the game-players. Already in some arenas of combat, there are ceasefires and protected zones and so on.
Even in those locations where Ingress isn’t that much fun to play, it’s still fascinating to watch, as an aspect of Life Online.
Zipcar and Jamba · Well, yeah, Google is a business after all, and I never really believed the fantasies about Ingress being a supergenius plot to maximize the effectiveness of locational datagathering. It’s fun, it’s free, and if there’s a biz model in portal location, I have trouble seeing a downside.
But then again, it just happened today. And I’m happy to report that the disruption following on the sudden portal influx gave me the urge to go out and hit a few of ’em this evening; but I stayed in and wrote this instead.
We’ll see. Stay tuned.