By Karina Ultreras
While students walk to class, study at the library or just wait for Starbucks, a secret universe is being fought over on the Cal Poly Pomona campus.
Ingress is a Google smartphone game played worldwide. The Resistance and the Enlightened are the two teams in the game that pick up, hack and battle over digital territory, all while playing in real life.
One of the main components that makes this game special is augmented reality, which is a computer-generated image on the players’ view of real life. GPS location reveals about 72 portals around the CPP campus that gamers walk to in order to play the game. Players capture portals for their factions and receive points.
Jaynesh Jamnadas, a third-year technology operations management student, has been playing since November 2012. He is a Resistance agent on campus, because he considers himself a bit of a maverick. Jamnadas began playing because the app was on his new phone, and he was bored one day.
“At first, I didn’t really get it, and I personally thought it was dumb because I didn’t want to walk up to the Kellogg Ranch to go take a portal up there,” said Jamnadas. “When I first started playing, [the] campus was pretty Enlightened by three students that kept it tight. They helped my out and gave me the ropes, even though I was on the other team.”
Even though many students don’t know about the game, Zoe Teh, a fourth-year industrial engineering student, heard of it through word of mouth.
“I play regularly, almost daily, on the way to class, and sometimes after class,” said Teh. “CPP is a mini Ingress playground.”
Some portals around campus include buildings, plaques, art galleries and many more.
“The portals on campus are significant in some sense, whether it is a building or plaques,” said Jamnadas. “I know for a fact that at least 95 percent of students would have never seen [the plaques] in their lives. I never noticed the time capsule before this game.”
Unlike other games, Ingress involves a physical aspect because of its use of augmented reality.
Fourth-year mechanical engineer student Jeffrey Moore first played the game for fitness.
“It started off as something I can do when I go on runs, because you can map out a run route and play at the same time,” said Moore. “It makes running a little more interesting.”
Teh also agrees that the gameplay is different than others.
“The gameplay is interesting, given it is one of the few games that require players to hike to get to portals,” said Teh.
The game has intrigued a diverse population on campus. Even professors are taking part in Ingress.
Jason Pittman, a computer information systems professor, is part of the Enlightened because of its smaller user base, which allows him to collect more data.
He found Ingress through some clever Google searching.
“Ingress is a fantastic introduction to augmented reality,” said Pittman. “I haven’t found anything to dislike as of yet. I play daily but solo, but the game is much more fun in groups.”
Jamnadas knows of many other professors that play Ingress.
“It gets awkward when you meet a teacher, especially when you’re in class and you know for a fact that the teacher is playing,” said Jamnadas.
Some may think the game is extremely competitive because the two teams go against each other, but it actually brings them closer and creates a community.
“It is definitely a way for students to connect,” said Jamnadas. “Friends that I’ve made through the game, I would have never would have met otherwise because we have different hobbies or majors.”
Teh wishes that more students knew about the game.
“I would love if there were more players at CPP,” said Teh. “It is a great game to meet up and play as well as play solo.”
Creators of Ingress also plan events for players. Ingress First Saturday happens every month in certain cities for cross fractions to meet up. The purpose is to help new players come in, teach them how to play and show them tips and tricks.
Jamnadas recently attended one of the meetups in Las Vegas. He and other CPP Ingress players like to hang out on campus, as well as downtown Pomona.
“I try to do events whenever something is going on,” said Jamnadas.
Ingress points out special locations around the world that users uncover. Moore’s favorite portal is the CPP Letters.
“I can discover all these cool things about that place, or even places I’ve been before,” said Moore.
Since CPP has a pretty large campus, it’s an adventure for students to visit all the portals.
“I would recommend it because it is a good community building game,” said Jamnadas. “It is fun, and you’re going to learn a lot about campus. But, at the end of the day, it is highly addictive.”
The game is available for both Android and iOS.
Courtesy Niantic Labs
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