Ingress: social media/networking

In late 2012 a new game was released: Ingress. The game, designed by Google, is currently in invite-only beta, and is only available on Android mobile devices (phones or tablets).  Ingress is an augmented reality game that uses GPS and Google maps. To play the game you must physically move around the real world to “in game” locations where you use your mobile device to carry out actions in the game.  There are two teams or “factions” in the game who are playing against each other. When you start to play the game you select a faction and continue to play on this side.

Why do I bring this up in this blog? Because it’s social in an interesting way. To date many games have been social, people converse in the game (using microphones or by typing) and many people build in-game relationships or play with their “real-life” friends in-game. Games such as World of Warcraft require teams of people to work together in order to meet in-game objectives.

The game has a chat function that allows players to interact with other players but you also bump into players in real life, people on your team who you can help or the other team who will fight against you in-game. Once you get to higher levels, like World of Warcraft, you must cooperate with other players in order to advance further in the game. But unlike World of Warcraft and other computer games you have to be physically located together at the place of interest to do so.

I can imagine that this technology could be used as a library tour, both that you have to physically move around the place (and are tracked) but that when you get there you interact using a mobile device. It has pipped my curiosity in a way that Layar didn’t when I looked at it. But it has made be think again about how Layar could be used by libraries. These technologies have obvious applications for family history and public libraries, but the applications are less obvious for academic libraries like mine.

Food for thought.

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