Mobile games have been around for a while. The one thing that links them all is that your eyes are always glued to your phone and your surroundings are lost. That seems unfortunate considering the beauty of our fair Montreal. So why not play a game that will not only kill time while you’re on a bus but also push you to look up and see small wonders in and around Montreal? Welcome to Ingress.
Ingress is in a category called augmented reality apps. These apps add to your surroundings through your phone. Imagine having your maps app, except now, instead of showing you restaurants and bars, it shows you ‘portals’ placed around the city by other users at interesting locations. There are thousands of these locations in and around the city. The portals can be found at the murals splayed out over the city, statues hidden behind decades of brush, historical architecture, or just beautiful natural areas. Montrealers have been prolific in spreading them around, and for new players, visiting the abundance of portals on and off the island can present many new environments you may not have known were there.
But what does one do with these ‘portals’? Well the big picture of Ingress is that there are two factions: Enlightened and Resistance, and they vie for control of as many portals and area as possible. Say you take a walk around the old port and find a free portal at the clock tower. You can claim it by deploying what essentially amounts to generators. The generators power your portal and you’ll have claimed it for you faction. Now, you can create a link to another portal owned by your faction that you have previously visited. Linking three portals in a triangle will also claim all the area between them. The point of the game, then, is to gain as much area as possible for your team, keeping in mind that the other team will often try to destroy your portals and claim them for themselves.
Aside from being a very cool and innovative game, Ingress leads you to interesting places, especially with user created missions. These give bonuses and always have a theme. For example, there are missions involving a tour of the churches of the old port or a bar hop of Montreal’s microbreweries. Who doesn’t love a good drinking game? Ingress has a huge community worldwide and a very active Montreal branch. Work together with other members to make massive areas or play alone for the adventure.
Some people have even taken so-called ‘Ingress Trips’ with the goal of making massive areas by linking very far portals. For example, there was recently an area between portals in northern Greenland, Paris, and Chicago. Think of what that means, to have visited all three of those locations!
We are always looking for new and interesting ways to experience our city and despite Ingress being released years ago, for new players, the novelty should not be underestimated. Ingress was developed by a subsidiary of Google called Niantic Inc. It is free and available through the app store. Check out the awesome trailer here or Ingress’ explanation of their game here. Make new contacts in your community while discovering it more thoroughly and have fun!
Photos courtesy of Ingress, unless indicated otherwise. Featured image by Instagram user @adamlackman.