I have a secret.
But I’ll tell you.
Since it’s only just us two, right?
I’ll whisper it to you.
I’m a geek.
I know! I know! I’m a writer. I’ve published books. I must know things, and be authorial, and wise.
I may be some of those things. But I am also, at my heart, a geek.
Let me show you my geekness!
See that? That’s a symbol of the team I play on. We’re called the Enlightened. (This is actually the Seattle Enlightened icon.) We are the artists, the explorers, the inventors. We’re here to guide humanity to the next phase.
The other side call themselves the Resistance. They fear the coming changes, the enlightenment we bring, and are entrenched in their old ways.
The game is called Ingress.
You see that person standing beside you, intently tapping on their phone? They may not be creating a text message or tweeting something. They may be playing Ingress.
Ingress is a game created by Google. It’s a thin layer of “virtual” spread over reality.
Public sculptures and other areas of interest have been turned into portals. The two teams battle over the portals, flipping them from green to blue and back again.
Here’s what my viewscreen (phone) looks like:
Because it’s based in reality, you start to see the world differently. You start to look at art, and wonder if it has extra energy you can use. You look at parks and sculpture and wonder about the forces that created it, and that put it here. You never feel alone when you’re walking in the city, because there are always these portals, all around you.
You also start getting paranoid about everyone on a phone. Because the game is only on Android devices, you get really, really good at spotting iPhones.
You look for places where you can hide in plain sight, where you can attack (or defend) a portal from another player and they can’t see you.
You start putting together different outfits, so the other side won’t recognize you when you walk by and steal all their energy.
And you make up stories, lots and lots and lots of stories, connecting the art and the people and the long walks you take in order to play.
And if you’re really into puzzles and games, you keep track of what’s happening over on The Niantic Project wall. Every piece there is a hidden clue. You have to examine the code behind the picture in order to see them, frequently. Then you have to figure out what the code means. Solving the code gives you stuff in the game. The Decode Ingress site lists many of the solved puzzles.
So what kind of stories would you tell about a virtual reality that’s completely addictive (seriously, I wouldn’t warn you about it if it wasn’t) and makes you move? The only way to get to many of the portals is to walk. I know serious gamers who are now losing weight because they’re playing (and walking.)
Me — I love the portal art. Portals have beautiful skins that move up over them as you approach. I have envisioned another version of the game, someplace with a lot less gravity, where you get to ride that wave as it flows up. Someday I’ll even write that story. But if this inspires you to commit Story, please do so! Whatever you create will be 100% different than what I create.