Thursday, November 22, 2012

Ingress: Part Game | Part Reality

A new Google game, Ingress, is discussed along with some of its implications for the narrowing divide between various domains of human experience.

Key Links:
Rachel Metz's post on Ingress.

A recent post by Rachel Metz of MIT Technology Review discusses a fascinating new Google app: Ingress. Ingress puts the player in an epic battle for a newly discovered resource, exotic matter, which is distributed throughout the world. Naturally, the nodes that spill this matter into the world, key tactical positions for either team in the game, are conveniently placed on landmarks and other useful locations. Thus, by playing the game, people flood Google with an endless wealth of location-based information. Genius.

By integrating game and application, Google successfully takes an excellent step into the realm of augmented reality. As I have mentioned previously (1, 2), this domain is ripe for exploration and Ingress is certainly at the forefront of this work.

What is central to this exploration is a fusion in the divide between domains we normally consider separate like game and application. This fusion is possible because the divide, though once very real, is becoming increasingly illusory. The human-machine distinction is becoming all but absurd. 'Real life' is so artificial that most people 'play' themselves while living in fictional realities that they find more meaningful. The result is a convergence of sorts towards something like a singularity: a world in which humanity 'plays' the game of life, the good and the bad, purely for the sake of enjoyment and the base needs of all are met merely as a byproduct of this game.

Pictures courtesy of:

1 comment:

  1. It's a smart idea for an app, and certainly moves us closer to augmented reality.

    I, for one, ('welcome our robot overlords', yes, yes), am very interested in your last line there though. How close is life to a game at this very moment -- and would we lose something if all our needs were met without effort, creating our own virtual playground simply to have something to do with our time?

    A friend of mine recently described to me their own relationship with an actor they met as part of a alternate reality game (ARG), the blur between actor and person, move and maneuver they described was fascinating. The ability to suspend disbelief and focus upon layer after layer of meta-games with those around us, online and off, has become virtually ubiquitous. I believe that the many among us, within the castes privileged enough to not fear their own survival, create 'high-score' status systems to pass the time, to re-appropriate their evolutionary energies that otherwise would succumb to deep lethargy. We create our own games -- and the distinctions between games and reality, the reason why the great civilizations created their Colosseums, is precisely because these great games reflect our need to return, or keep to, our originally designated life.

    The transition to augmented reality is not a shocking, new, or strange one to me. It is a habitat some have been dwelling in since insular pillars of civilization first coddled them in their ionic crib 2000 years ago.


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