Ingress game gets Beaumont moving
A gaming application for Android is helping put Beaumont and other local cities on the map. Ingress, a game developed by Niantic Labs and currently owned by Google, utilizes players to mine data for Google Maps. Area players are set to gather in Beaumont on Saturday, Aug. 17, and the public is invited.
The game story pits the Enlightened against the Resistance. The Enlightened are in favor of an alliance with a mysterious alien race known as Shapers. The Resistance would prefer to decimate the alien race. Niantic keeps players guessing by releasing the game’s back-story in segments and generating an evolving storyline around user game play.
The object of the game is to control geographical areas using collected energy, known as “exotic matter” or “XM,” and placing resonators near landmarks, known as “portals.” When three portals are linked, forming a triangle around an area of land called a “control field,” the land within the control field is then owned by the faction that created the field. Ultimately, the teams’ goal is to control the most “mind units” or people, the number of which is determined by an algorithm using census data where available. When a team controls a geographical area by creating the control field, mind units within the controlled area belong to the faction. Resonators break down after a while so they must be maintained, and can also be hacked and attacked by the opposing team.
So, how is Ingress bringing recognition to local cities? Gamers could tell you that the portals utilized during game play are cultural landmarks. For example, the Art Museum of Southeast Texas in downtown Beaumont is a portal. So are all local post offices, libraries and fire departments. If gamers find a cultural landmark that is not recognized as a portal, then users can submit a photograph and request that the landmark be added as a portal. The number of portals increases over time, and people who have submitted photos could see their pictures of the landmarks used by Google Maps to update geographical information. A few local users have seen photos attributed to them displayed when the public looks up the landmarks on Google Maps. With the number of local Ingress players expanding the knowledge of cultural landmarks in the area, Southeast Texas’ presence on Google Maps is also expanding.
Ingress also has the potential to increase physical activity. Players must travel and often walk from portal to portal, which causes them to have to actually get off the couch and get some exercise.
Players must have an invitation to join at this time. Once you have an invite, you must download the free application through the Google Play store.
The factions have periodic meetings where members of both sides congregate to discuss gameplay and recruit members. The next local meeting is in Beaumont on Saturday, Aug. 17, at 6:30 p.m. at the Café del Rio (which happens to be a portal) at 2830 Interstate 10 E. in Beaumont. Android users can also go to the Ingress website at www.ingress.com/ to request an invite.