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Google launches closed beta Ingress, a free alternate reality game for all

Google is investing in fiber optics, entertainment, hardware, cars, satellites and, hell… Google probably has its hands in just about every aspect of technology today.  So it shouldn’t surprise us that Google recently launched a closed beta of a free Android game that blends reality with the fictions of the digital world.  Dubbed as Ingress, Google’s new take on alternate reality gaming has definitely caught some off guard.

In Ingress, players actually have to get off the couch and travel around in the real world to be able to accomplish their goals.  Once a player reaches his destination (be it by walking, running, or teleportation) he can interact with landmarks while using his phone as a ‘guide’ to figure out what secrets that location might hold.  Along the way, players can collect “XM”, or virtual energy units, which can then be used for unlocking other ‘portal’ missions. 

Players are divided into two teams; the ‘Enlightened,’ which are the people that accepts the power, and the ‘Resistance,’ which are the ones that are against the power. 

“The concept is something like World of Warcraft, where everyone in the world is playing the same game,” said John Hanke of Niantic Labs, the force behind Ingress

While the game is an interesting addition to the line-up of Google products, Ingress itself does serve another purpose.  And by purpose, I meant to say advertising.  Some well-known brands such as Zipcar and Jamba Juice are involved in some ways with the game.  Whether it’s directly or indirectly, Ingress will help expose players various brands as they progress in the game. 

The game does not have an infinite cycle as the creator has confirmed that there will be an end to the madness after about a year and a half.  Ingress is a free app available to Android to users, but currently the game is in closed beta and only invited players are allowed to navigate the alternate reality to determine the fate of mankind.  You can request an invite via the Ingress website.

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