‘This has taken over my life’ - Norwich gamers chase portals across city as Ingress app takes off

Ingress player Kyle Secker, centre with fellow Resistance team members at one of hundreds of portals throughout the city. Photo: Steve Adams Ingress player Kyle Secker, centre with fellow Resistance team members at one of hundreds of portals throughout the city. Photo: Steve Adams

Monday, August 25, 2014
9:30 AM

A cult game from Google has swept into Norwich, with dozens of Fine City landmarks starring in a fictional global battleground.

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Ingress player Kyle Secker, centre with fellow Resistance team members at one of hundreds of portals throughout the city. Photo: Steve AdamsIngress player Kyle Secker, centre with fellow Resistance team members at one of hundreds of portals throughout the city. Photo: Steve Adams

Players of Ingress – a free mobile phone app – must take over real sites that have been written into the fictional world as “portals”.

The twist is that you cannot play the game from the comfort of your own home – geolocation technology forces you to walk to a site to take over its corresponding “portal” in the game.

“Portals” in the game include several around Norwich Castle, The Forum and the golden ball outside the headquarters of the EDP.

All of the GoGoGorillas were portals in the game while they were on display – with suggested portals submitted by players, and approved by people at Google.

What is Ingress?

Ingress is a free mobile phone app game which has proved a cult hit around the globe.

It was developed by Niantic Labs, a start-up company within Google, and released in test form in 2012.

When players sign up they must first pick a team – the Enlightened or the Resistance.

The two teams are at war over fictional “exotic matter” which is striving to control people.

The Enlightened want to harness its power for good, and the Resistance want to stop it from controlling people.

To achieve their team’s goal, players must take over portals – using an array of fictional weapons.

The landscape for the game is the physical world in which we live.

Players can submit suggestions for portals to Google, together with a photo, description and the geolocation information.

If approved, it will feature in the game.

The twist is that players cannot play while sat at a computer screen.

They must walk to the portals, with geolocation technology detecting when a player is there.

The game’s slogan is “the world around you is not what it seems”.

Ingress has hundreds of thousands of dedicated players around the world. Among them is Aviva worker Kyle Secker, 28, who lives in Keswick Hall, near Norwich.

He said he first played Ingress after a friend told him about it in 2012, when it was released in test form.

Mr Secker – who has a tattoo of his team in the game, called the Resistance, on his left forearm – said: “This has taken over my life. If I’m not working or at home with my partner looking after my little son, I’m playing this.”

He estimated that he had walked more than 500km so far this year to get to different portals to take them over.

The two teams in the game – the Enlightened and the Resistance –must compete to take over the most portals, as part of a sci-fi storyline.

Keith Gerrard, 56, of Blofield, was told about Ingress while at Norwich Beer Festival at St Andrews Hall.

He is on the Resistance team, but said the University of East Anglia was a hotbed for the opposing team, The Enlightened, and it was very competitive.

See www.ingress.com/

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