Ingress is just a game. A massively multiplayer alternate-reality game, one that that overlaps with the real world — so like you walk to actual places (a museum, or library) with your phone to do things in the game, in which you’re on a team with potentially millions of people competing against a rival, equally massive team — but a game nonetheless.
Still, there’s something slightly unnerving about the fact that it’s Google launching this alternate-reality game as it diligently and publicly pursues the augmented-reality future with its Project Glass concept. Google already creates or dictates a lot of reality in an abstract sense — whenever you search for something, Google gives you the answer. That is reality according to Google, and it’s one you probably accept. With Ingress, Google is toying with reality even as it gets ready to create aspects of it in a real sense with Project Glass, highlighting in a weird way the kind of power Google will have once everybody’s got a pair of its glasses strapped to their face.
I’m sure the game is a lot of fun, though! I can’t wait to play it. Invite-only for now, and it’s out on Android first, but it’ll likely make its way to other platforms. And I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s this kind of massive, reality-warping game that’ll end up being the next World of Warcraft — highly engaging, with millions of totally enraptured players and a sizable place in pop culture. Like Lost, but you’re in it.