Research on the Augmented Reality Game Ingress

An augmented reality game, Ingress was released by Google—under the subsidiary Niantic Labs—in November 2012. Since then, the game has amassed over one million downloads, and Ingress players, otherwise called “agents,” are active in over 100 countries (Robinson, 2013). Billed with the slogan, “The world around you is not what it seems,” Ingress, “transforms the real world into the landscape for a global game of mystery, intrigue, and competition” (Ingress, 2013). As such, Ingress breaks from traditional game boundaries by turning the world into the game board (Montola, 2005; Benford et al., 2006). Players work as members of factions, The Enlightened or The Resistance, and compete to control “portals”— user-submitted and typically famous landmarks, buildings, or artwork, that are physically located in the world. Game success is achieved when players work together to create large fields (groups of three portals that are linked together).

Because play in Ingress occurs primarily in the physical world, there are trade-offs between privacy and game success as players are inclined to meet-up, or simply run into each other in the field. As a privacy researcher, Ingress is interesting to me on a number of fronts. Some of the areas I am researching include cross-cultural comparison of Ingress players, gender differences that emerge in play due to safety concerns, community formation in Ingress, and more.

References:

Benford, S., Crabtree, A., Reeves, S., Sheridan, J., Dix, A., Flintham, M., & Drozd, A (2006). The Frame of the Game: Blurring the Boundary between Fiction and Reality in Mobile Experiences. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. p. 427-436.

Ingress (2013). Ingress. Retreived from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.nianticproject.ingress

Montola, M. (2005). Exploring the Edge of the Magic Circle: Defining Pervasive Games. Proceedings of DAC 2005 conference. Retrieved from http://remotedevice.net/main/cmap/exploringtheedge.pdf

Robinson, J. (2013, Nov. 4). Google’s Ingress to exit beta December 14. Inside Mobile Apps. Retrieved from http://www.insidemobileapps.com/2013/11/04/googles-ingress-to-exit-beta-december-14/

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