Documenting the Coming Singularity

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Coming Soon - Alternate Reality Gaming

c|net - Nov. 16, 2012 by Casey Newton

Screenshot by Casey Newton/CNET
Last week we began to see the first hints of Google's first foray into so-called "alternate reality gaming," in which cryptic clues are strewn about the on- and offline worlds for the perusal of highly engaged fans. "What is the Niantic Project?" asked a teaser video. As of today, we know the answer: the Niantic Project is a game called Ingress.

As described in a teaser video, Ingress describes a world in which two shadowy sides are vying for dominance: the Enlightened, who are trying to establish portals around the world that will let them control people's minds, and the Resistance, who are trying to stop them.

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The game takes the form of a free mobile app, now available on the Google Play store for Android devices. It is the second product from Niantic Labs, a startup accelerator within Google. Niantic is run by John Hanke, the former head of product management for Google's "Geo" division, which includes Maps, Earth and Local, among other divisions. Niantic's first project was Field Trip, an Android app for discovering the world around you. Released in September, Field Trip sends notifications to a smartphone whenever a person passes an area of possible interest -- a landmark, a park, a highly rated restaurant. In my use, it's been a fun way of exploring new cities and unfamiliar neighborhoods.

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