/// Google’s Mobile Game Ingress Finds a Passionate Following

March 29, 2013  |  All Things Digital

Sometimes, Google seems like a wanton withholder of things that are good and useful ( see: Google Reader ). Sometimes, the company seems to be chasing the competition ( see: Google Shopping Express ). But here’s something totally fanciful and weird that Google is devoting substantial resources to: A mobile augmented reality game called Ingress . Since launching in November, Ingress has developed a passionate following that begs on Google+ for invites, trades intelligence on Reddit and meets to go on real-world quests together. “It’s like the real-world socializing of Foursquare merged with World of Warcraft,” explained Ingress creator John Hanke in a recent interview. John Hanke Hanke and his team — an internal division of Google called Niantic Labs — clearly have a lot of very geeky fun. They’ve devised an alternate reality where players divide themselves into two teams and then work to connect together virtual portals situated on actual local landmarks. Hack a portal and connect it to two other ones, and your team gets control of the land area within that triangle. Ingress players wander around with their Android phones running the app, making plays for portals and coordinating their attacks. They look for clues and codes from videos and other content put out by Niantic . Hanke said Ingress was pitched to Google CEO Larry Page as “a bet to invent experiences for mobile devices today and the future.” He said that — for the time being — Niantic’s efforts to explore the future of location-based gaming are exempt from efforts to focus the company. Hanke explained, “With things like Android and Glass, all these technologies are sitting around Google. There’s a lot of latent capability. We’re like kids in a candy store.” Thomas Hofmann/Google+ Ingress fan art Ingress isn’t a success yet, though it has had promising growth. The app has been downloaded more than 500,000 times and players are evenly split between the U.S. and the rest of the world, said a Google spokeswoman. The team building the technology, gameplay and content consists of “a couple dozen people,” she said

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Google’s Mobile Game Ingress Finds a Passionate Following

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