Leaving Ingress: My ascendancy and decline as an agent.

After a little over two months, I’ve decided to leave Ingress.  It hasn’t been that long in the scheme of things, but because of the time I’ve invested, it feels like forever.  At the time of this writing, my local teammates don’t even know I’ve left the game.  Out of all of the things that are going to be hard to do, I think breaking the news to them will be the toughest.  I wanted to recount my experience for anyone who might wish to listen/read, and for all intents and purposes, feel like I am detoxing, withdrawing, etc, really bad.  A lot of what I am writing is for my benefit, and reflection, but if you glean anything from it, I’m happy to help!  Some of this is discombobulated thought.  Feel free to grab your favorite bottle of spirits while you read through those parts and make a drinking game out of it.

Where to start…..ah, let’s call that “Genesis”.  I’d like to preface that with a short introduction: “Hi, I’m BaconFatLabs, and I’m an addict.”


Around the fourth week in June, the 25th to be exact, I was checking out my much neglected Youtube subscriptions, and one of them had this thing that, at first, I found extremely silly.  It was a camera phone video of “Gettysburg Interitus ending”.  Scores were rattled off, and each time “Resistance” was named the victor, followed by what seemed to be some REALLY bad LARP-ing by an individual named “Dr. Devra Bogdanovich” (Who is actually Karen Strassman of video game voiceover fame).  The crowds cheered, and were REALLY involved.   I didn’t know what it was all about, but there were so many unanswered questions.  Further exploration led me to figure out that it was all part of a game called “Ingress”, which at the time installed from only the Google Play store onto Android compatible devices.

Wikipedia describes Ingress as “an augmented reality massively multiplayer online role playing GPS-dependent game created by Niantic Labs, a startup within Google, originally for Android devices, and since July 14, 2014 for Apple’s iOS. The game has a complex science fiction back story with a continuous open narrative.”  Please refer to the cited link for the complete summation of the game, but it’s basically a new twist on an old theme:  “You are tasked to save the world from certain destruction, because aliens”.  They take existing global maps data, place “portals” anywhere there is something of the slightest significance, and watch two groups of people slug it out for dominance.  The key difference in this game is that you actually have to be within 40 meters of physical range of the “portal” to interact with it (except to perform a recharge, but again, all of this is covered in the Wikipedia entry).  One major detail:  Ingress is digital crack-cocaine; highly addictive, and habit forming long after the so-called euphoria is experienced.

So I downloaded and installed the game, went through the whole “What you think you have downloaded is a game, when in fact, blah blah blah” spiel, and was asked to choose an agent name, and faction that I wished to play for:

  • The Resistance faction fights to save the Earth from Shapers. The Enlightened say that the Resistance fears change and a better world. But the Resistance believes that the Shaper invasion will be the end of humankind, and they want to stop it. The Resistance are represented by the color blue in the game.
  • The Enlightened faction wants to help Shapers to infiltrate Earth, and they believe that Shapers will help humankind evolve and that they will bring enlightenment to all people. The Enlightened are represented by the color green in the game.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t really read instructions before doing things a lot of the time, and this was no exception.  I chose Resistance, because it’s more of my nature to rebel, and, well, I like blue.  After doing research later I quickly found that I made the right decision for the region I play in, but as far as gameplay is concerned, it only comes down to which name and color you like more.  I skipped the training exercises and went to get a haircut.  After my haircut, I turned my phone, errr, I mean, my “scanner” on, and parked next to a green portal (the opposite faction).  I was kind of fumbling around and figuring out what to do, so for giggles, I hit the “Hack” button.  It zapped me, and gave me items which I don’t even recall, (probably resonators and XMP’s I’m guessing).  Well great!  Let’s do that again!  I try again, and am greeted with a “Portal Running Hot!  Cooldown Active!”.  Uh, great?  What the hell am I supposed to do now?!?  I do a long screen tap on the phone, which brings up a submenu with an option that says “Fire XMP”.  Okay, let’s try that, then.  I fire off every XMP in my inventory and I still have no clue what I am doing.  Later, I find out that it is pointless to fire Level 1 XMP’s at most portals that higher players build, and it continues to be pointless until you reach Level 6-ish.  There’s a term for this that Ingress agents use: “flinging noodles”.  Oh well, I hacked a few more portals (still unaware of what, exactly, I was doing), shut down the app and didn’t think about it again for a few days.

ACTUALLY learning to play

Saturday morning rolls around, and after researching gameplay online, I decide to give it another go.  I hopped in the car, connected the phone to the car charger (which I QUICKLY learned not to leave the house without because between the data radio, the GPS, and the display going nonstop, expect for it to suck down at least 25% of your battery an hour, probably more).  I visited all of the portals that I pulled up within range on something Ingress furnishes called “The Intel Map”.  I drove up to some, hit the hack button, and drove off.  I had to get out of the car to hack others (remember, you have to be within 40 meters of a portal to interact with it in the game), which was actually not a bad thing because one of my motivations for the game was exercise.  This continued until I ran across a portal that was a white color.  I’d never seen one before, and didn’t know what to do.  I went to the faction COMM channel and asked.  They told me something that didn’t make sense.  I responded “Ok, pretend I am completely dumb and have absolutely no idea what I’m doing” (I wasn’t pretending, though).  That seemed to work, and I claimed my first portal: A high school football stadium.  I felt like I should be doing more, and for the rest of my life, I will never forget the collective “NOOOOOOOO!!!!” response I got when asking, “Should I deploy a link amp or something?” (Ingressers will understand)  I found several more unclaimed portals in a nearby park the next day, when I learned how to properly link and construct control fields with portals.  By the end of Sunday, I was on the cusp of Level 4, and Monday brought Level 5.  I have to admit, 5 level jumps in 3 days made me feel kind of like a superstar.  It was new, and exciting, and my new favorite thing at a time when pretty much all of my hobbies had run stale, and those of you who know me personally know that I don’t exactly suffer from a lack of hobbies.

A culture unlike anything I have seen, and subcultures within

While looking at faction chat over the weekend, I glanced at someone who had offered to bring me into the G+ Hangouts for the area.  I took them up on it.  I quickly learned that there is a surprising amount of activity that happens to coordinate things within the game, including social functions where the game is a medium.  Slang terms like “Smurf” (Resistance player), “Toad” (Enlightened player), “campfire” (deploying resonators too close to the center of a portal which results in easy attack), and my favorite, the “F.U. campfire” started flying at me.  You can probably imagine what the F.U. is, but the actual definition is incredibly humorous.  I won’t go into it here.

In my area, there aren’t really many “cross faction” meetups, but apparently such things exist in other major cities.  There were several occasions where there was an organized event in my faction.  Farm building, farm destroying, you name it, if there was a game objective involved, it was organized with the addition of cookies, beer, or both.  I attained an incredible amount of first hand advice from these venues and thoroughly enjoyed it.

There is a subculture within the Enlightened faction called “The Barcodes”.  Agent names are changed to new names that consist of a predetermined combination of lower case l’s and uppercase I’s.  In the game, because of the font they use, one agents barcode is indistinguishable from another.  This is supposed to be for even more collective anonymity or to promote more group cohesion, or whatever, but really all’s I have seen it do it allow them to gang up on someone else without retribution.  I don’t necessarily agree with that, but it isn’t against the terms of service in the game, so, “Meh”.  I jokingly suggested there be an equivalent Resistance subculture that uses O’s and 0’s.  They could be called “The Bubbles”.

During my timeframe of play, I managed to recruit seven agents.  Three of these were during the iOS release, and I attained a special “Eve” badge for this achievement.  Six out of seven of these players didn’t play for long, and the last one doesn’t really play that often now.  There’s a statistic floating around that 95% of new agents don’t continue the game shortly after their start, and based on my firsthand experience, that appears to be somewhat correct.  They, like me, probably aren’t able to find the time to play.  Unlike me, they realized that far quicker.

There’s a LOT of culture that I just can’t talk about because it directly affects and defines what strategies are used within the faction, and even though I’m not playing anymore, it wouldn’t be fair to current players if I divulge that information I’ve been privy to.  Rest assured that there’s a lot left unsaid in this area.

Climbing the level ladder

After my initial jump to Level 5, leveling (naturally) started becoming harder.  It took me three more days to make level 6, and actually happened on a very fun night that involved consuming an entire pepperoni pizza with two of my closest friends as we roamed around (both of which also leveled the same night).  After that, I began to settle into a groove of claiming portals, full deploying, linking, and fielding.  This became where I spent every moment I wasn’t working or spending time working on “had to do’s”, and at this point, the “had to do’s” even started to show neglect.  Leveling wasn’t necessarily fun at this point, but the push to the coveted level of 8 sustained me.  I wanted to be high enough in level to start being “dangerous”.  In retrospect, I think my leveling push was a strong desire to actually be able to start playing without limitation, and somehow, I thought this would be rewarding and give new appeal to the game, so I continued on.

This is also the point where I began to invest in peripherals that would aid in the game.  I bought spare car chargers, and a 22000 mAh battery bank for charging my phone during long, “on foot” trips.  During all of this, I managed to curb the car once, and drop it off of the foundation of a leveled structure that I *thought* was a parking lot.  I also had a terse exchange with a rent-a-cop who approached me in an unmarked vehicle, when it was dark outside, merely asking “Can I help you with something?”, without attaching any context.  He didn’t like my response of “Nope.  Sig Sauer already takes care of that this time of night.”  Apparently, I was on private property when I pulled off off the main road into a parking lot for one of the divisions of L-3 Communications.  There were very small signs that I saw as I drove by the next day (the size of real estate placards, and those are all over town), but the parking lot was pitch black and I likely wouldn’t have noticed them during the day either.  Oh well, private property is private property, and I didn’t go back, but was pretty unhappy with the way that was handled.

Medical Setbacks

July 4th rolls around, the end of week two of game play.  My family spends Independence Day with close friends.  Everything is great until a few days later when I start feeling drainage in my ears.  I’m starting to feel myself get sick, but continue to go on leveling trips at night.  In the process of this, both of our households get sick.  I feel better in a few days, and then get sick again after everyone recuperates.  Cold air conditioning blowing in my face for a few hours every night made it worse.  I literally turned a mild cold into a massive sinus infection by not slowing down.  On the cusp of level 7, I finally broke down and went to the doctor, because I was miserable.  The sinus infection was so bad that they prescribed Doxycycline, an aggressive antibiotic, to clear it up.  I wasn’t back to normal in any sense of the word for almost 2 weeks after that.  On the way there, an Enlightened agent was tearing through the county capturing “uniques” they needed for game badges, this one in particular being the “Pioneer” badge (When you attain level 8, subsequent levels require certain badge levels as well as Action Points to advance).  In the process of cleaning that up, I made level 7.  Then I was bed ridden for a few days while I escaped the clutches of death.  I was so congested I could barely breathe.  When the antibiotics started working to kill the infection, the tissue that remained was inflamed, and now exposed to open air, and I was in so much pain.  For about 12 hours, it felt like there were ice picks being stabbed into my ears, and I never want to feel that way again.

Anyhow, as you can imagine, the game really started turning into a grind, I started not playing as much, and it felt like a time commitment I was obligated to pursue.  This is possibly when it stopped being fun and more-so a second job that I had no business with, and I was only a month and two days into it.  I decided to push to level 8, just for achievement purposes.  It wasn’t peer pressure, but at that point I had a reputation of a “fast leveler” to live up to.

Attaining Level 8

It took a little less than two weeks to make level 8 from 7.  As I mentioned above, I wasn’t playing very much after I got sick, and only put about 60,000 AP in for 7 days.  I had a few days the following week where I didn’t play, then I decided to make the final push.  It still wasn’t fun.  I put 500,000 AP on the board in just four days (which is around 84% of the AP necessary to advance from 7 to 8, and I did 200k of that in 1 day)  by finding myself in the appropriate spots and situations to game and finally attained Level 8 on August 7th.

Level 8 brings several new responsibilities to the game, most of them burdensome.  To attain Level 8 gear, you have to hack a Level 7 or higher portal. Level 6 portals will pop out Level 8 gear on occasion, but it’s not often.  This means, to maintain any inventory of gear to actually be able to play the game for the level you have attained, you have to either spend more time driving around and hacking, or make trips to your faction’s standing 7 or 8 “farm” (group of portals).  As a result of this, there is a gentle-persons agreement within the game that if you benefit from the farm, you really should be helping with it’s upkeep (which makes sense).  If a farm is leveled, you should be there to help build it back up.  Just as a little perspective, it takes at least three agents to built out a Level 7 portal (8+7+8+7+8+7+6+6 = 57, divided by 8 slots is a bare minimum L7 portal), but EIGHT agents to build out a top of the line Level 8 portal, since each agent can only lay 1 L8 resonator per portal.  If you are farming, and a portal is dying from lack of recharge (which is currently happening every 4 days), then you should recharge it.  I began dedicating even more time that I didn’t have to the game.  This is when things began to spiral a little out of control for me.  I found myself going out of my way to do things that were chalked up to strategy, and again, I would love to go into more but I don’t want to divulge that information which could possibly betray players in my faction.  Bear in mind that all of this is occurring while working a job that requires at least 45 hours a week, usually more, as well as home responsibilities of being a family man, and any other incidental activities that I have to do.

Game Theory

My favorite part.  Many people attribute Ingress as attrition based, and as such, liken it to a game of chess.  You could certainly take that approach, but I think it’s a serious disservice to yourself, and strategy of the game.  It’s more like the largest game of Go ever played.  Don’t believe me?  The concepts are nearly identical to Ingress.  Look at the intel map in America (speckles of control fields), compared to the intel map in China (zones of control enveloping enemy faction portals).  Note the vastly different play style by merely what you see.

I’m a big fan of “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu, and read it yearly.  That is astoundingly applicable to Ingress, and when I first started playing, I thought about making an e-book on the subject called “The Art of Ingress”.  I’m glad I didn’t, because it turns out, someone already thought of it.  A long time ago.  You can find it here.  It’s a very entertaining read if you play the game, or are just curious, but I will caution you, the author makes use of the term “attrition” far too often.  That is not a concept of the original work, and as I’ve mentioned, I don’t feel that it’s an accurate reflection of the spirit of the game.  The only time that attrition is remotely inferred to, and it’s not even really attrition Sun Tzu speaks about, is when your troops are placed “On Death Ground”.  That being said, I’d still recommend the e-book.

Sun Tzu explains in The Art of War: When torrential water tosses boulders, it is because of its momentum. When the strike of a hawk breaks the body of its prey, it is because of timing.”

Playing Ingress has become a deadlock in momentum for me, as I’m sure you’re tired of hearing about by now.  When you lose momentum, you advance slowly.  That’s applicable to anything:  Ingress, your job, WWII troops left spinning their wheels in the hedgerows of the bocage country, life.  When you find yourself advancing slowly and doing things of a repetitive nature, it’s a morale killer.

The problem with the application of game theory in Ingress, is that you have to have the majority of the faction on board with your strategy.  That’s extremely hard to accomplish considering the player base, and it’s even harder to coordinate the known player base into roles and times that work for everyone.  It’s interesting to approach from a philosophical perspective, but not really of any useful benefit within the game for that reason alone.  You are stopped dead in your tracks at “Laying plans”.  That’s very disappointing, but true.  As a result of all of this, I have a renewed interest in game theory (which applies to all aspects of life), have several more books to read on the subject now, and that should keep me entertained for a while.  I’m about halfway through “The Joy Of Game Theory” by Presh Talwalkar, and I am fascinated.

Medical achievements and other benefits

This isn’t the last section of the article, but it’s the last part that I’ve chosen to write about.  I wanted to end what I’m typing on a high note for myself, even if it’s logically not “the end”.  There’s a section in the Ingress scanner that tracks how far you’ve walked.  They can derive this because it computes your speed based on GPS polling (there are also upper limit speed restrictions in the game).

Anyhow, according to the game, I’ve walked this far:

That’s 88 miles in the last 2 months.  I haven’t walked that far in a very, very long time.  I feel better.  I’m sleeping better, which is even more fantastic after conquering a 2 year bout with insomnia, but I also fear that I’ll relapse into it if this gaming pace continues.  My resting heart rate is down 5 bpm on average, and my blood pressure is down in both systolic and diastolic by a measurable amount, with the exception of when I was sick.  My pants are falling off of me, and I’ve taken a belt loop up.  I’ll definitely continue walking, except I won’t have a phone in front of my face anymore.

As a side effect of portal discovery, I have visited places I never would have seen before.  It’s shown the beautiful world around me.  Even beautiful things in the middle of a sea of ugly, and I’ve loved that.  I think I’ll “regress” into geocaching instead of “Ingress” in the near future.  That seems like something I can do at a much more reasonable pace.

I cannot say enough good things about the acquaintances I have met in the last 2 months, and I hope you will all choose to still stay in touch with me or sit down and have a cold one when Ingress isn’t involved.  I’ve come to think the world of my local teammates, and you represent impeccable character.  I am in your debt for the friendship you have brought into my life.  The sentiment stands on it’s own merit.

The malaise of end game indifference

At this point, I’m tired of repetition.  The game is worldwide, but it’s the same, and there’s really no incentive to keep doing what I’m doing, and I likely wouldn’t feel differently if they did introduce more incentive because it’s intangible in nature.  In fact, it’s hurting other aspects of my life while I’m glued to an intel map or scanner.  It feels like even more of a second job than I had before and the elements of fun are the people I have made friends with, and not the game.  I liken it to something the late comedian Mitch Hedberg talked about in regard to above ground pools: “I saw a commercial for an above ground pool; it was 30 seconds long.  You know why?  Because that is the maximum amount of time you can depict yourself having fun in an above ground pool.”

“Claim this portal.  Oh, someone blew my portal up, let me go claim it again.  Oh, I’m low on gear, I need to hack.  Now everything is dying, I need to recharge.”  Rinse, and repeat.  These are exact reasons that I’ve stayed away from the MMO game craze, even though Ingress is in fact an MMO by definition.  I’ve been keeping absurd hours when I need to farm, and even milk runs have been taking far too long while playing the game.  I’ve tripled the amount of money I’ve spent on fuel for the car, not to mention the ensuing wear and tear and maintenance items like an out of schedule wheel alignment that is now required (which I fully acknowledge was my own stupidity but is still ultimately a factor).

I started looking around these last few days, and I find that I am in very good company in my sentiments:


I could also him and haw about game imbalance like many have also talked about when they leave, but I don’t really find the imbalance annoying.  It’s not perfect, as this post and this one goes into (take note that it was written when Ingress was in open beta, and many problems still remain), but at the end of the day, it’s a game that you are required to play within the confines of.  I could also go into why it’s the most elaborate game of Calvinball (as some like to call it), because at times, the rules are changed to suit the storyline.  Why don’t I mind?  Probably because of my stubborn fondness of game theory.  For what it’s worth, that, aside from the massive amount of walking I’ve done, are my favorite aspects of the game.  The problem is that when things get chaotic in a situation where you’re already low on time, it’s almost impossible to introduce game theory into the equation, so the grind and monotony continues.  I know it’s time to stop because a willingness to play has transitioned into a rationalization to play, and finally, the stage I’m at now, having to talk myself into playing.  I have to talk myself into doing the dishes, because I don’t like to do the dishes.  Given that deduction, I’m at the same stage for Ingress.

Not so quick, but final, revelations

Eventually, as a “smacked in the face” epiphany tends to do, I said to myself, “What in the world are you doing!?!”  My life has become relatively ridiculous merely for making game accommodations.  The decision to leave the game is not because of anything within the game itself, except for the simple fact that I am bored with it, and it consumes too much time I need to devote elsewhere.  When I weighed the negative impact of all of the tangible things in my life (time with family, for instance), with the tangible benefits of the game (friendship, which I don’t take lightly and appreciate, as well as exercise, which will continue), it was easy to see which option my time will have to go towards.  Tangibility is big consideration for me and even when hobbies come to mind, if there’s very little tangible end result, eventually I’m going to pass on it.  A close friend of mine warned me that I was going to burn myself out at this pace, and, he has complete right to tell me “I told you so” in this regard.  That’s just my gung-ho nature and really more or less applies to everything I do.  I am completely incapable of being a casual player, and I’ve really tried.

I’ve met a lot of good people; people that I will continue to keep in touch with absent the game, to have some food and beer with, as well as to collaborate on technical projects and mead making (that article is coming REAL soon, I’m letting it “age” :-P)  I’ve also been party to some really absurd people, which I won’t go into, because it’s relatively isolated and far from my biggest complaint about the game.  Actually, my biggest complaint about the game isn’t even directly “about the game”.  There are agents, most of which seem to reside in the opposite faction although that may just be a matter of perspective distortion, who seem like they are just DYING to meet you.  For the purposes of full disclosure, I’m an introvert.  It’s not that I’m a social recluse, but more-so that I pick my social interactions carefully because they are draining.  In a game where there are certain measures taken to somewhat protect anonymity, NEVER assume that someone wishes to meet you just as much as your desire to do so.  In fact, assume the opposite.  It’s important to be courteous on the open COMM channel, albeit a little friendly banter, but at the end of the day, respect the wishes of someone who does not wish to engage you personally outside of the game.  Don’t get hurt if someone doesn’t want to say “hi” to you.  It’s especially important to realize this after you blow up someone’s Level 8 farm and then come up to them thinking they will be having nothing but nice thoughts, and certainly don’t expect them to congratulate you on the matter, or that you’re anything more than a faster button-masher.  Yes, it’s just a game, but competition stirs emotion.  These responses are different, and more or less severe from person to person.  “But wait, you just said that you’ve met a lot of good people.  You sound like a hypocrite!”  Yes, I did say that, but these were people that I made the choice to interact with, and it was not directly while playing the game.  I still enjoy talking about the game (because strategy), but I don’t see myself turning the scanner on again.  I’m disappearing as quickly as I emerged.

The slogan of the game is “It’s time to move”.  In keeping with that theme, it’s like breaking off a college love affair:  This has been really exciting and fun, but now that it’s not so fun with the real world back in my face, “It’s time to move on”.

91 Responses

  1. Jarom
    Jarom September 24, 2014 at 5:27 am | | Reply

    Holy cow… Awesome post.

    And so you know this isn’t some stupid spam comment let me elaborate.

    I’m an EL8 player in Northern Utah. I’m on my second account of the same faction. Here’s why. Back in the olden days of Ingress I was leveling up pretty quick, and got halfway through L7 before I had a realization. I was sneaking out at night behind my Wife’s back to go play with “friends” who I really didn’t know. When she’d ask what I was doing I felt inclined to make something up. At that point I realized that if I couldn’t explain my silly game to my wife then why was it worth playing. I instructed Google to delete my account at that point and I thought that was it.

    After a few months of a hiatus I decided to spin up a new account and play casually instead of hardcore. I went from L1 to L8 in just over 8 months at that pace. But I still find that the desire to go out in the middle of the night and blow up the nearest enemy farm is still there. My wife does let me go out and play every so often but this time I only do so with other family members and close friends. I stay removed from “teams” of players from either faction and play within my own group of trusted individuals.

    Yes I’m still an addict. But hopefully I’m managing it better than last time. After reading your post though I wonder if it is time to hang up the scanner and go fishing.

    Is there a support group for recovering XM addicts? 🙂

  2. burgers
    burgers October 22, 2014 at 3:47 am | | Reply

    I’m the same way, I’m a L11 and I quit about a month ago. I would spend 6-8 hours easily playing it every day. It reminded me of when I fell into the WoW trap when I first started. I lost 9 months of my life to that little game what a waste

  3. Navigation games – Ingress Special | Minimal games

    […] I actually combined it with my morning runs as a playful replacement of Runkeeper. Ive also red a blog by an American Ingress player called BaconFatLabs who used a car and combined Ingress gatherings […]

  4. Bethany
    Bethany October 31, 2014 at 2:41 am | | Reply

    My brother got me playing a couple of weeks ago and I’m nearly at burn-out rate after today. I live rurally making any kind of serious play impossible unless I drive 80 miles. There is a town 20 miles north of me with another person who is Enlightened where I’m Resistance. Thanks to Google doubling points this week I’m a 100,000 points from level 7. Since it’s only me driving/walking back and forth to claim portal keys and fields it is getting old especially in making large fields from my town to the one north of me. Having to drive back to get a key is a PITA. The guy in the town 20 miles has the advantage of destroying anything I build and everything to make a field is in a several block radius making fields pointless. I actually get more satisfaction in destroying than I do building.

    What the game needs is better things to do other than a “back and forth” mentality. It also needs better weapons for game play. Something like a power burster that takes out any enemy portal within a 5 mile radius. Make it super rare, but worth it. Or something to turn a field to your color.

    We need a key icon next to the portals you have keys at for better planning. A cleaner scanner outlook would be wonderful as the fields and portal are hazy.

    The advantage to living rurally is that no one attacks what you have so I have several badges for keeping portals, fields and links active. I’m taking a break for now and I feel so much better admitting it.

  5. HylianK
    HylianK November 21, 2014 at 6:12 pm | | Reply

    Thanks for sharing your story as an “Ingress quitter”. 🙂 Though I still play, I find it at least encouraging to read someone questioning the game and its players, even being addicted – I find myself staring at the IITC map and planning my work/ evening walk route for way too long – you’re not going to find this kind of thing in your local G+ community. The reddit post and the war tactics doc you linked were equally interesting. And this:

    > For the purposes of full disclosure, I’m an introvert. It’s not that I’m a social recluse, but more-so that I pick my social interactions carefully because they are draining.

    Finally a fellow introvert! People always make it sound like Ingress = finding friends and having a beer with them. Well, I don’t like finding friends, or at least socializing with random, strange people, and I don’t like beer. If you don’t fit the “Ingress daddy” or the computer nerdy type (the Ingress people often being these two types at once), it’s hard to find people you like… Like in real life. (sigh)

    The thing that keeps me going is: I do love staring at the intel map, as I mentioned. I can finally relate to people who watch sports now. I live right in the residential area inside a big city, and the serendipity of having cleared an enemy farm right before a low-level teammate gets off the subway from work and reclaims it, is rewarding to me.
    Lastly, I apologize if this comes off as bitchy environmentalist: Thanks for not burning fuel and pumping CO2 into the atmosphere in order to capture virtual objects anymore! This would be a huge disincentive for me, if I didn’t live in the city.

  6. pandahope
    pandahope December 14, 2014 at 8:13 pm | | Reply

    I was not able to play ingress, didn’t want to play and will never play! But my ex-boyfriend does play ingress and he is so addictive to it. Ingress is taking much of his time. Fortunately, he can still do his responsibilities at work (I hope so..) but he no longer spend time with me and with his family. His mom even told me about the changes on him. He spends much of his time and money with ingress. He doesn’t provide right finances for his family anymore because he uses his money everytime he needs to meet other ingress players. He gets his sleep of 4hrs per day because he needs to look around for portals at night. Some of ingress players are too demanding for his presence and time (before he let me see messages on hangouts and slack…) Because of giving too much attention to ingress, he got a cold and fever for almost a week due to lack of sleep and stresses with the game. I told him to play ingress moderately or better yet leave ingress because it’s already affecting his health and his relationship with family and real friends. But he even pushed me away. He said that ingress is too important, I asked him if it’s more important than his family, work, friends and I and he said Ingreszs is his world right now. I think he’s no longer with his senses because of too much addictiveness to ingress. My comment sounds repetitive but all I want to say that if a player can’t manage the game, I don’t think ingress is good game. If you are as irresponsible as my ex-boyfriend,better yet leave ingress.

  7. RecoveringXMaholic
    RecoveringXMaholic December 14, 2014 at 9:44 pm | | Reply


    I came across this post and it is spot on. I started playing 6 months after the game first came out (it was still in closed beta.. you had to get an invite). It took me 5 months to get to Level 8 because we had so few portals here (I live in a semi-rural town).

    I even managed to get a 92-day guardian (but back then they didn’t have any badges..let alone a guardian badge.)

    6 months after I started playing, 2 very hyperactive ENL players started up. They played all hours. They didn’t seem to be employed (or if they were, they played every waking moment.)

    I managed to get my Level 8 thanks to them because there was finally some activity rather than watching my blue portals and fields decay and once in a while, a L8 ENL from out of town would come in and take stuff. (We actually had a friendly chat he’s a nice guy and he used to ask for which portals to leave alone, etc..)

    Since the game opened up, and the 2 hyperactive green players appeared. The game became unfun to play. My portals had a lifespan of maybe half an hour tops. I have a full-time job and am married so I didn’t have a lot of time to really devote to the game. Yet, I persisted. Once in a while I’d get some blue L8s from the nearby city and we’d level my town, but within hours it was back and green.

    I would lose interest, stop playing for weeks, come back, and start doing it all over again. I would try to recruit blues in the area, or try to help those starting out in private comms. They would leave and never come back. Presumably seeing the town constantly green, fully shielded and modded with turrets/force amps and they with their L1 XMPs. Oh well!

    It became nasty with the 2 green players. One of them started saying: “Oh you should hear what your fellow Smurfs say about you.” Trying to create division and doubt. This in front of a new blue player I was helping level.

    Finally, after a drinking session I went out to take a few portals, only two have that nasty green player and his friend (also green) start replacing resonators on a portal I was taking. Words were exchanged and not nice ones, I decided the game was just not for me.

    The last straw was one of the greens taking out my guardian which I thought was fairly safe.

    The game has a lot of bullies in it, and it doesn’t work for the more casual player. Niantic refuses to address these imbalances. If you’re unemployed, or appear to spend every waking moment playing, then you basically keep control. It’s a game for obsessive control freaks and it really pushes all the buttons for them. It hits those reward centers of the brain which is why it appeals to that mindset.

    It’s time to move.. and I did. L10 RES player signing out for good.

    1. Nate
      Nate December 16, 2014 at 7:23 pm | | Reply

      You are right about the bullies. When I first started playing, there was a RES player in my area who would take out any portals I owned within 15-30 minutes of them going up. I initially got upset and wanted to quit. A fellow ENL player in my area had a good talk with me and encouraged me to look at it from a different perspective. He said it was the nature of the game and no portal “belonged” to any agent, regardless of how close you were to it. Now when opposing players take down my fields and portals I laugh and say “thanks for the AP!”. I’ve even had some good spirited exchanges with local RES agents over the COMM that ended well. It all depends on how much of it you can take this as a friendly competition.

      My perspective might be different if I didn’t live in an ENL-dominated area. Leveling would have been much more difficult. But I also found that I can put the game down for a week or two if I need to. It all depends on your own level of frustration tolerance.

    2. Brian
      Brian December 18, 2014 at 5:32 pm | | Reply

      Do you live in GL, MI? There’s a guy that lives there that had this exact thing happen to him.

  8. Giligain
    Giligain January 18, 2015 at 5:07 am | | Reply

    Didn’t know about the game ’till an hour ago. I guess I should conclude this game comparable to crack, and move along doing better things.

    Thanks for the story, it was a #goodread.

  9. Raylorn
    Raylorn January 19, 2015 at 5:32 pm | | Reply

    Very Nice Read! I am new to the game (Lvl 4) but I can see how it can take over your free time. I am a casual player and have no intention of not going out yo Jet ski in order to farm some items. I suspect that this will be a term game of winter / Fall for me till the season warms up and I more fun things to do outside. As always balance is key. Your article is really a #goodread.

  10. Paradox
    Paradox January 22, 2015 at 4:23 am | | Reply

    Very good article. I think you did a good job describing what can happen if one devotes too much time to this game.

    I’m a level 6 (almost 7) agent on ENL. I really haven’t had problems with other agents as they tend to be somewhat civil (unless we put big ass fields up), and ENL is getting destroyed where I’m at. Even so, my friends and I (I play with a trusted group that I’ve known for years) only go out once or twice a week and moderate our time well. I think playing like this will be a lot more fun/beneficial. Plus, it’s great for walking!

  11. Excelsior
    Excelsior January 23, 2015 at 10:44 am | | Reply

    I’m an L7 Resistance player… good read… I limit my game play, and am more interested in coordinating fields for my faction. Some people play for themselves and their team loses. The game is not about leveling up, it’s about MU controlled by your faction every checkpoint. The game is played in 175 hour cycles with 5 hour checkpoints that determine team score based on control fields at the end of the checkpoint. No one can absolutely plan out their lives around making sure every 5 hours their fields are up. If I want to join in on a cycle, I can. If I want to take a break, I can. At the end of the cycle the game resets. The game is all about how much you can control, and setting up fields in ways that make it hard to take down. Obsessing about total control is psychotic, and I leave lots of frog portals there. I just refield the important ones when I get around to it, methodically. We have won the last few cycles with this strategy… they can go on raids and blow up guardians, but we win, because we’re methodical and they play for themselves, not the team score.
    Again, this game is more fun played in cities or suburbia. Small towns would be maddening to play.

  12. OngoingPlayer
    OngoingPlayer January 26, 2015 at 2:00 am | | Reply

    I very much appreciate your perspective and have seen many friends go a little Ingress crazy, many have given it in others, not so much.

    I never took on more than being a casual player, and for many people that’s enough. For me the health benefits out-weighed any of the communal craziness, I’ve got my gold trekker medal and have goals for myself this year to crack the platinum if not the onyx (I think my dog is very keen for that). I feel the most valuable benefit from playing ingress is the parts of my city and country (Australia) I have seen because I’ve taken the time to go out of my way to a portal and explore that little bit extra has enriched my life.

    Thanks for the perspective and the link to Art of Ingress :), enjoy your well earned retirement!

  13. BLVCKK
    BLVCKK February 9, 2015 at 3:26 am | | Reply

    I’ll join in here. I was looking into geo-location gaming as part of a presentation I was putting together for work.
    A timely post on facebook with a “level up” screen shot had me asking a family member “what game is that?” as I spied the GPS style map in the background.
    5 minutes later the game was on my phone.
    Initial excitement for my presentation faded when I realised that it was too in-depth for what I wanted to show as I actually wanted to create a real activity that my delegates could “play” during the workshop. Ingress wasn’t the answer. But what I did see in Ingress was the incentive to exercise, and so the journey began.
    Im now L8 and have been playing for about 3 months.
    Why do I refer to a local bus driver as my “nemesis”?
    Why do I feel the need to drive out at 11pm to smash a field anchor.
    Why am I contemplating buying a newer, better phone? Battery extenders? More expensive contracts?
    Why have I tried to recruit my wife? Why did I pick up her phone and install it FOR HER and insist she comes out on my “walk” with me?
    Why did I go out to a pub to be “validated” by a stranger?
    Why do I care if the sky over my house, through the scanner, appears to be blue or green?
    Why do i sit at my desk at work, looking at the intel map? Or seeing if GPS creep has bought my desk portal in range? Or watching the chatter on several different google hangouts?
    Why did I find myself getting ANGRY when portals were smashed, and a huge field I had planned, blocked?

    This weekend I “recycled” almost everything in my inventory, and blew off the last of my XMP’s.

    I then thought long and hard about account deletion and app un-install.

    I just wanted something casual to get me out of the house.

    Ingress demands so much more.

    I dont care for badges.

    I like to learn from the mistakes of others.

    And so while contemplating ending the game I spy the badge “Purifier”.

    So this is my plan.

    Forget the story.

    Forget the teams.

    I play alone.

    Fields mean nothing to me. And neither does colour.

    Without changing ANYTHING about my life other than having an incentive to keep up my evening walk, my goals in ingress are now reduced to 2 things.

    1) Hack
    2) Smash

  14. Big Bald Joe
    Big Bald Joe March 9, 2015 at 4:31 pm | | Reply

    I ain’t stopping . . . I’m a Level 10 ENL player in Metro Atlanta.

    I completely agree with many of your points (and many others posted in the links you shared) but I would like to add a few positive bits about Ingress.

    1. YES it can be addictive to those of us that have a gamer addiction gene. . . If yer the type of person that ever found yourself sitting in front of a console game trying to get that last achievement or character unlock then yes you can find yourself driving around looking for your last 10 unique portal hacks to level. Buut then you are probably the type of person that can get sucked into Flappy Birds, Clash of Clans, etc .. .the difference is this game will at least have you out of the house.

    2. I recently went to the Shonin event in Atlanta and it was hilariously fun. The people watching was grade A . . .nothing better than a bunch or nerd types walking around Atlanta staring into their phones. I walked 12 miles that day and had a blast. These big events can be really fun to meet people and just enjoy a strange day out in the world.

    3. My kids. I got me a pile o kiddies and we have spent several outings going out and seeing what all is out there. I have found playgrounds that I didn’t know existed (most recently one with a whole section of large dinosaur bones sticking out of the ground for climbing on). I have hiked along trails I would never have known about. And my kids are looking forward to the day when they can play ‘Daddy’s phone game’. . .not sure if they will or not but I got a few years to ponder that one.

    4. Finding the balance. . . Isn’t that what life is all about? Sure I have gone a tad out of my way to hack some portals and yes I have had to purchase a large portable battery to keep my phone from dying but in the end I find that the goods outweigh the bads. . . provided I keep up the balance.

    5. City vs Small town play. I have played in Atlanta and I have played where I live (not Atlanta but close enough). The game is different out here in the boonies compared to the suburbs. In the burbs or city you get CRAZY points (MUs) for making fields. . .but they ain’t gonna last long. Out in the sticks fields may last for weeks but the challenge then becomes finding links and fields that aren’t up. . .so I can be happy wherever I play.

    So get yer scanner on and enjoy the hacks. . .

    sidenote –> using terms like blowing up portals will get you raised eyebrow looks from people. . . hee hee

  15. Micah
    Micah March 12, 2015 at 11:37 pm | | Reply

    I realized the repetative concept at about lvl 3. I was pretty disappointed because I just gave up playing WoW a couple years earlier because I was tired of grinding dailies (repetative). However, I found a way to keep my momemtum going. LOL, I got a job with the city parks. Now, Ingress is just something I do along the way, and every day is a walk in the park. I hack and go. Build my inventory. When the timing is right I can take out several lvl 8 portals during my 15 minute breaks and lunch….and I’m only level 6. Don’t make Ingress WHAT you do. Make it something you do as an added bonus to what you’re doing already. Working in city parks, installing equipment, watching people play. Saying hello to friendly dogs, and of course, watching the weather get warmer and the women jog by :). Click hack swipe repeat.

    PS: Dont tell my gf about that last part.

  16. NoNames
    NoNames March 19, 2015 at 9:05 pm | | Reply

    I am a new player and I’m already having major doubts about playing this game.

    I was hoping it would get me out walking more, which it did. I made it to level 3 in about 3 days.
    Then I saw a player threaten another player with rape. Yeah, it was probably just trash talk, but as a woman walking around alone a lot more, it gave me a chill.

    The thing that really bothered me is, nobody said a damned thing. Nobody stood up to him. Nobody said “that ain’t the way we roll” or “rape isn’t funny” or made a joke that conveyed it wasn’t cool. I took a screen shot and sent it to Niantic, and an hour later if I tried to view his profile I was told “Scanner running hot.” About an hour’s worth of posts disappeared from the faction comm view. Nobody even noticed that. Or maybe they all sent screen shots in, I don’t know.

    Before that, I was becoming aware of a really cool community feeling within the game, even between factions – one player was very sick, and the other team held off attacking her portals. The silence around this soured that for me.

    The kind of people I want to hang around with would have been all over him, letting him know they wouldn’t tolerate that. How else is he to learn? How else is a player like me to feel safe playing? If nobody stands up to that, what else would they just ignore?

    I had been looking forward to meeting other players. Now I’m kindof afraid to. If they didn’t stand up to him, does that mean they’d be mad at me if they found out I sent in a screen shot?

    Suddenly this doesn’t feel like much of a fun game. I’m still at level 3, not too motivated to play.

    1. Tobias
      Tobias April 18, 2015 at 3:48 pm | | Reply

      Most of the communication between players in the game takes place outside of COMMs, especially in G+ Hangouts. I’m sure that plenty of people had taken screenshots of the comments and were talking about it. Probably his own teammates were giving him a ton of crap over them. And I’m sure that other people submitted the screenshots to NIA Ops, which is how he got banned so quickly.

      I’m guessing that if you had been the one threatened you would have received apologetic messages from other players.

    2. BLVCKK
      BLVCKK September 8, 2015 at 3:08 am | | Reply

      Sadly, it was only after about a week that I realized how easy the game makes it to “track” other players activities, and from thier, you can work out their movements and daily routine.

      I think, sadly, it’s an incredibly dangerous aspect of the game.

      It took me no time at all to meet local players because I knew where they were standing. A short bit of chat later, and I knew the background of several other local players including where they lived and what they did for jobs.

      Information “volunteered” by total strangers.

      Add to that the 3rd party (not endorsed) apps, tools and websites that will literally track a player for you, and you have a stalkers heaven.

      None of these things worried me as I’m big enough and ugly enough to take care of myself.

      The most harrowing I’ve had is my Nemesis driving at speed right up to where I was parked, smashing one of his portals, and setting up camp so he could defend and re-deploy.

      I just wound down my window and said “I’ve got all night mate” and joked that I had ~800 L8 XMP bursters to use up. (I didn’t, and was actually nearly out).

      He really wasn’t happy and drove off.

      People get too involved in this “game”, and if you are concerned for your safety, I’d recommend ONLY playing in a group of people you know well.

      But for the reasons above, the game SHOULD have a 15+ rating AT LEAST, and I’d suggest kids ONLY play with parental supervision.

      To end, remember this. It’s an “Augmented Reality Game”. And as we all know, “Reality” isn’t safe.

  17. Dave_Gamer
    Dave_Gamer April 5, 2015 at 11:32 pm | | Reply

    Yeah – I just deleted Ingress off my phone (didn’t delete my account though). I’m only level 3 (which took about 3-4 days). As many have said, too much of a time sink. I’m on the outskirts of the suburbs and there’s pretty much a mile or more between portals so they are usually drive-by hacks. I read one of the above poster’s idea of limiting his play to just going out and smashing portals. I thought, yeah, I could do that. But then I got to thinking that what I really liked about the game was taking control of Portals, building them up, and creating fields. But in the game it’s too easy to have your portal destroyed. So then you just go around building them up again in a never-ending cycle. I think the game would be better if it had a time-limit when the game would end. There could be multiple games of Ingress going on, all with different time limits. There could be a monthly game, a 3-month game etc… There should be more factions too – at least 4, maybe 6-8. So you could get into, say, a 1 month game with faction 8. Your faction would get points for controlling Portals and fields – the faction would accumulate points every hour so the longer you had stuff the better. When the month is over, the game ends and one faction is declared the winner, then everything is reset and you start up a new game.

    1. BLVCKK
      BLVCKK September 8, 2015 at 3:12 am | | Reply

      I totally agree.

      The game does have “Check points” and “Cycles” and these are the points where team score is calculated and player ranks are set. They are every 5 hours.

      I’ve long thought that the game would be MUCH better if all the portals and fields were neutralized at the end of each Cycle (at least).

      This would still make the game continuous, while adding an element of “end game” or “rounds”.

      It would also level the playing field and stop 1 team dominating the other in an area, simply because they have more players with less “real life”.

  18. VJ
    VJ April 8, 2015 at 11:39 pm | | Reply

    Speaking of Time Sinks, this blog post.

  19. Denys
    Denys April 9, 2015 at 8:58 am | | Reply

    Hello and thank you for the good reading.

    It made me pause, question myself and buy that Game Theory book on Amazon.

    I started less than a week ago as a “lone wolf”, made it to level 6 so far, and get contacted by much higher level players who live nearby. They cheer me up to get to number eight. Maybe I’m wrong but now I guess the reason is that they are maintaining the highest level farm in my part of the city, and they need a fellow.
    Before i stumbled upon your article, there were three major things that made me question the game between the short times of being high on Ingress. The first is repetitiveness of fun which killed the fun. The second struck me by surprise, turning the whole concept of the game upside down: factions need more of co-operation rather than actual competition. What is the best way to level up rather than smash and build farms taking turns? The third might be specific to my city, but the portals placing in public parks and squares seems to be intentionally made for easy farming. Yes it allowed me to jump to level 6 in less than one week, but it feels like cheating when you can build a 12+ fields farm from scratch, spending less than two hours in the area bordered by a small park.

    So last night I confessed to my wife and now I think if I want to make it to seven before quit. It’s like, “hey you can do it in less than 3 days, intel map shows 3 vulnerable farm anchor portals near your office, and with level up you can put a huge triangle on the map when you drive to your parents’ city for Easter this weekend.”

    Or maybe I’ll just meet with some novice and drop all my stuff from the scanner. Or do it randomly around the city center next week, resisting a wish to hack everything I go by.

    Anyway, I’m not going for the Big Eight.

    Thank you, and best wishes from Ukraine.

    PS hey Ingress rehab community sounds like a promising thing

    1. Denys
      Denys April 9, 2015 at 9:34 am | | Reply

      Oh, and that’s an irony on how a starter of “I quit Ingress at level 8” post you referred to has a badge with number 13 a year after that decision: http://www.reddit.com/r/Ingress/comments/1wkeh3/quitting_as_a_respectable_8_and_why_many_are/

  20. Montague
    Montague April 13, 2015 at 8:38 am | | Reply

    The problem here, is people giving up on something they enjoy doing and blaming it for getting in the way of ‘real life’ or ‘wasted time’ or some other ridiculous idea. What would you be doing instead? Watching TV? Watching a sports game? Reading a book? Hiking? etc etc etc!

    Ingress like WoW or any other MMO style game is only as bad as you the player makes it. If you have no self control, you are going to burn out pretty quickly. Most non gamers live a miserable exsistance, rl for them is tawdry and boring, socialising among the same old faces over and over. MMO gamers socialise with new faces constantly, we meet different people daily, we think, we strategise, we ENJOY!

    Blaming a game for your own social inadequacies is ridiculous, ease down, chill out, take a break, but over all, just have fun!

  21. Keta
    Keta April 15, 2015 at 12:47 am | | Reply

    Thankyou for the good read.

    I started playing Ingress with my wife almost 3 months ago after hearing about it from a friend of my wife. It started off easy, I read a couple guides and was off to the races. We mostly just played on walks and found parks nearby that had clusters of portals that we could interact with. We quickly found disdain for how many driveable portals there are in my city, and how few portals are around that you can only walk to. I like to walk my dogs and play and walking dogs on streets isn’t very enjoyable for me. Anyway we were playing together casually and then I hit 7 and went a little crazy leveling up and then I hit 9 and finally decided to slow down. I don’t know exactly how many days i went from 7 to 9 but I know i was gaining 50-100k ap per day. In part I was getting excited because green is the underdog where I am and we were gaining ground so I was putting in more effort to help the team out. I have taken a step back and still hack everyday and maintain a couple portals next to where I work. I had to remind myself that I just don’t have the time to play multiple hours every day. Its been frustrating at times realizing there’s nothing I can do to compete with the half dozen oponents that spend most of their days off playing, though i’m convinced there’s 2 or 3 of them that don’t actually work. For the time being i’m focussing on getting portals approved in parks that you can only walk to, so here’s hoping.

  22. p6bonsai
    p6bonsai April 15, 2015 at 5:33 pm | | Reply

    This is hilariously identical to my own experience; save the sake that I’m reading this having just hit L6 yesterday (consider my own timeline matched to your own lol). As a quick leveler the end was in sight, I too had the residual yet not quite acknowledged “I know I’ll just hit 8 and then get bored with it”. It was – and is still ringing of fun, especially as my particular trade is vehicle based – it was easy as you please integrated into my life. Thanks for the article – I think I’m going to switch back to geocaching too. It’s more accessible for my non-ingress-laden partner, and hell I still have two travel bugs out there from 2005.

    Goodbye ingress.

    Rinse and repeat indeed haha

  23. Sue
    Sue April 17, 2015 at 2:20 pm | | Reply

    Thank you so much for a very enlightening article. I stumbled on an Ingress “Power Cube” this morning, and because I live in a bubble I had to Google Ingress to find out what it was. I am a bit of a gaming geek and it sounded like fun so I downloaded it. After all, I can always delete it, right? I also started thinking about mentioning Ingress to my son, who is a hardcore MMO player with a huge potential for becoming an addict and setting up residence in my basement, gaming all day with his “empire” and getting fat eating Chips-Ahoy (nothing against Chips-Ahoy, of course). After reading your post, I am torn. I don’t have the time to dedicate to this myself (although I can already feel the it trying to suck me in and I haven’t even created an agent name yet), but I am wondering if it would help my son, who doesn’t have many local friends with similar interests. Do you have an opinion on this?

    1. Aslan
      Aslan April 28, 2015 at 5:06 am | | Reply

      So long as your son is a teenager doesn’t have a car and isn’t going to get into a car with strangers, I think Ingress can only be a good thing. After all one of 2 black badges you need for 16 is walking 2,500 kilometers. Ingress doesn’t hold a lot of appeal to me as a game, it’s just not that interesting. I don’t need the people either though I’m not opposed to making friends or hanging out on occasion. Ingress is my motivation to exercise and my exercise plan. I walk or run where the opposing factions fields are break them and recharge my local fields. I play 15 minutes to 3 hours a day, and I’ve committed to not play in the car unless there’s someone else with me to run both scanners, (except for recharging my personal XM bar) but that’s only because I want the challenge of being self made and self powered.

      I also submit extra photographs of portals knowing future generations will appreciate them.

      If anything too crazy ever happens Google is logging and tracking everyone by GPS and game data so players should never do anything too stupid. Once you hit level eight or nine you’re not going to throw that away, mostly.

      1. Aslan
        Aslan April 28, 2015 at 5:12 am | | Reply

        I should add I really hate the Sojourner badge. It’s for hacking a portal once a day for 360 days to get the black badge, no missed days. Wow, I hate this badge. I have the option, as I work from home of not leaving the house not even setting foot outside for 3+ weeks (I go outside when I choose, not necessarily every day). Gunning for this badge I have to be outside every day. I suppose this is a good thing.

  24. RecoveringXMaholic
    RecoveringXMaholic April 18, 2015 at 12:04 pm | | Reply

    Hey it’s me again. I picked up Ingress again after a long hiatus (nearly 6 months). I was at my local pub and decided to just take it. While I was taking it, the local ENL were of course recharging it.. up to their old tricks. I did manage to take it, so time went by… about 20-25 mins later a green drove down about 10 miles to retake it. So I took it about 15 minutes after that.. then he came back to retake it… then a second ENL player bolstered it.
    I ran out of XMP. It’s the same old tactics all over again.

    Today I submitted to NIA Ops to delete my account. It’ll be gone in 5 days!

    I also deleted my account on a 10 year old MMORPG I play (on a free server) as it was a game I kept playing over and over that I was getting no more joy out of.

    It’s never too late to remove from your life the things that stress you out and make you unhappy.
    You mention a membership in an Aboretum, homebrewing (I used to homebrew too!), and woodworking.. those things are fantastic! Do something creative you love.

    I recently took up playing music again and I love it.

  25. Tobias
    Tobias April 18, 2015 at 3:34 pm | | Reply

    I started playing in November of 2012, just after the game came out, when invitation codes were still required to activate the “scanner.”

    I played really hard. I poured over the Intel map to identify targets for my nightly runs to gain AP (needed to level up). I ventured out way too late at night, in all weather, and often faced the work day with too little sleep. But then, I quit. This was before even Power Cubes had been released as items that could be hacked. I stopped playing, uninstalled Ingress…The whole nine yards.

    Three or four months later I heard about all these new items: Power Cubes, Turrets, Force Amps, etc. Out of curiosity, I re-installed the game to take a look. I was back in. But this time not as hard-core as the first time. I was no longer planning missions for myself. No more nightly forays. But this did bring me back just in time to attend my first “anomaly.”

    Months later, I quit again. And I stayed away from Ingress for more than four months. But I was traveling internationally, and in the back of my mind I was thinking of how interesting it would be to capture portals in other countries, maybe even “discover” some portals. So I got back into it for these trips, and it was a lot of fun collecting keys from interesting locations outside of my home country.

    When I returned, I found myself naturally falling into a much more casual relationship with the game. No more late nights or team meet-ups specifically to build and farm. I did start going to a few of the more social meet-ups. I also was focused more on work, leaving the scanner off for hours at a time in the office. Ingress had become more of a motivation to get outside on my lunch break and go for a long walk around the city. Now I feel that I have a healthy relationship with the game. Let’s face it, a game that forces you to go out and walk around is better than a game that forces you to sit and stare at a screen. You can call it an addiction, but I call it compelling game-play. The drive to level up is strong in some people, whether playing Ingress or World of Warcraft, or even a single-player game like Diablo.

    Don’t be so quick to declare Ingress addictive. It’s not the game that’s addictive, it’s the mindset of the person playing the game that causes them to invest too much of their energy into it. If it’s not Ingress it will be something else. I often encourage my teammates to take a break when they feel like the game is becoming too much of a “job.” It’s a fun game, but it’s just a game, and it’s up to the player to be responsible for their own well-being, just like every other game created by humans to pass the time.

  26. pasje
    pasje April 20, 2015 at 5:59 am | | Reply

    I started playing ingress in sept of last year. I had lost quite a bit of weight already and was looking to get more fit.
    Since september i have walked almost 1300 KM. I love it.
    I do a walk every day, walk to get my groceries, or when i visit friends. Kill a few portals on the way when i do so.
    I’m lucky to live in a mid size town with a lot of portals.
    For me, the going for walks is so ingrained with the game, it doesn’t feel like rinse and repeat at all. Even after more than half a year i still find neat spots in my own home town that i never knew of and it’s just awesome.
    I visited Two anomelies now, played ingress in several cities in the netherlands and europe, found hidden gems in all of them that i otherwise would have never seen.
    I love the community who has taken me in with open arms and try to always help out my fellow players.
    I organise cross faction events (first saturdays) and am very much looking forward to the big anomely in Utrecht at the end of june.

    Maybe i’m addicted, though not on a level of “must go outside to kill one more portal!” My day does feel off when i haven’t at least walked an hour, though i expect that’s more about my body missing it then missing a few hacks on some portals.
    Due to all of this, i doubt i’ll stop playing any time soon. I’m looking forward to see more cities and more gems, walk many many more KM and have fun meeting people who play the game as well.

  27. Outgress
    Outgress April 30, 2015 at 3:13 pm | | Reply

    I made the decision to quit Ingress today and was going to write a blog post about it, but thought I’d see what other had experienced and stumbled upon your site. Truly extraordinary how much this resonates with me. Reflecting on it today:

    The Pros:
    – Encourages me to get out and about and do a bit of exercise.

    The Cons:
    – Everything else.

    Three things in particular nailed the decision home:

    1. The Pointlessness. Your “Rinse and Repeat” comment rings so very true. Particularly as you just can’t die. I could attack a L8 Portal as a L2, and provided I had enough gear, I could take it down. It was a slow grind, but at the time it felt like an achievement. In retrospect it feels like about an hour of my life that I could have been doing more walking rather than trying to exactly position myself over a resonator to try to take it down. Only to have it recaptured an hour later. There is no incentive to pick your targets carefully – attack a portal that’s weaker than you, easy take. Attack one that’s stronger, bust out a power cube or take a walk around the block and finish it off. Grind Grind Grind.

    2. The Bullies. I’m based in Australia, and April 25th was ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corp) Day, where we pay our respects to our armed forces, particularly the brave souls of Australia and New Zealand who fought and gave their lives during the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey in World War I. The day involves a dawn service observed around the country, as well as marches through major cities. This year was the hundredth anniversary of the troops landing in Gallipoli, and me and my wife attended the dawn service which was very moving and reflective. On the conclusion of the service, we walked back to our car, and on the way I hacked a couple of portals. Later in the day I checked the comms feed to find that another local had publicly named and shamed me for “breaking the truce” on performing Ingress activities in an area that had been marked as a “no go zone” area as a “mark of respect”. A) I didn’t get the memo, sorry. B) I was going to say that the link between Ingress and Anzac day is fairly shaky at best, but that’s incorrect. There is no link. Trying to say “let’s not play Ingress within a certain area as a mark of respect” is well, nuts, and to then chastise people for doing so in a public forum is both nuts and bullying. Might as well give up Words With Friends for Easter out of respect for the J-Man. What?

    3. The business case. This wasn’t really covered in your post, but I think it’s important. Let’s not forget that this is run by our good friends at Google, so at the end of the day it’s a very clever way of getting people to do pointless things (refer point 1), while getting LOTS of data regarding people’s habits. What routes do you take to work? What do you get up to during your lunchtime? Do you hack througout the day, or just during your lunch break? Given that the game has no point for players, who does it have a point for? Google. It’s an information gathering machine, and the more of us who play the more they get. So Google, whatever is contained in the emails of the the inbox of Greg Proops directed at you and the NSA, I most likely second.

    Thankyou for your post, it reflects my view completely. Rather than leave the house with my phone to take down a portal which will be taken back in 20 minutes, I’m going to play blocks and dance to the Wiggles with my two daughters instead. Hopefully others will see both the futility and stupidity of participating in this pointless exercise and find something more contributing to society (RecoveringXMaholic – taking up music, big respect to you. On a related note, I hope you’re actually taking up music – being a legend in guitar hero does not make you a legend. Playing an actual guitar does :OP).

    As a final observation, where I come from there is a saying “there is nothing that cannot be improved by adding bacon”. Given your views on Ingress, and the title of your blog, I salute you sir.


    1. AgentSmith187
      AgentSmith187 May 4, 2015 at 2:34 pm | | Reply

      I think you misunderstoof the reason and meaning of the truce for Anzac day. Im also an Australian player (enl 14 active).

      What we didnt want was people interrupting dawn services to sneak in and get a few hacks or take down a portal.

      I dont agree with name and shame but its a sign of respect to avoid interupting such solem ocasions.

      Oh and on Anzac day i was out with the RFS doing storm damage work so Ingress was the last thing on my mind.

    2. RecoveringXMaholic
      RecoveringXMaholic December 5, 2015 at 4:44 pm | | Reply


      Yes, it’s real music! I play in a band now! 🙂

      Thanks for sharing your story!

  28. AgentSmith187
    AgentSmith187 May 4, 2015 at 2:54 pm | | Reply

    Im a very active level 14 enl agent.

    The area i live is very green in no small part because me and a few others keep it so.

    Im not burned out or near it and plan to attend my second Anomaly next month.

    The game has been great for me. Instead of parking myself in front of the computer or TV im out bushwalking or going to a farm etc.

    The key is setting your own pace. I have ither commitments in life too both my job and being active in the RFS. They come long before ingress. When i first started i woukd see my farm go down and jump in the car to rebuild. Now i say it can wait until tomorrow.

    I used to move plans around to farm or help put up or drop a megafield now i say sorry busy if i am. But if i have the time i love jumping in my car and driving somewhere to take part in an op. Its fun.

    Since i started playing ingress i have gone from doing the work grind and going home and sleeping and not much else to going bushwalking and seeing more of the country in the last 6 months than i did in the past 6 years.

    So let ingress lead you to things you want to do dont let it decide what you need to do.

    Not playing this week because your busy isnt the end of the world. Its a game not life and death. Make sure you enjoy yourself thats after all the whole idea.

    P.S since i started playing ingress i have walked 1946kms. My clothes no longer fit and im massivly healthier. I too hate cargress and refuse to play it unlike many. A car gets you to a play area ot shouldnt be a play method.

  29. David
    David May 7, 2015 at 3:16 am | | Reply

    super thorough and even analysis. good freaking job.

  30. Ben
    Ben July 29, 2015 at 4:53 pm | | Reply

    I’ve been playing Ingress since April 2015, and mostly started playing to get out more. I agree with a lot of the points in the article, but I’ve mostly limited myself to playing the game on the way to work or places that I need to go. Another great thing about this game is, there’s no in-app purchases that I can make. As someone who also plays Clash of Clans (and have spent over $20,000 on the game through in-game purchases), Ingress is definitely a game that is easier on the wallet.

  31. Fragas
    Fragas July 30, 2015 at 8:44 am | | Reply

    So now you have a blog how you quite ingress and again.. waiting same amount of time reading the comments? 😀
    Just kidding, but that thought brought a smile to my face 😉

  32. AJohnson
    AJohnson August 6, 2015 at 5:22 pm | | Reply

    I admit I get addicted to games, and spend way too much time on them. I’ve had to make myself quit a few that that were starting to take up way to much of my time. So I can totally see how someone may need to step back.

    I’ve been playing Ingress a couple months, hit level 8 pretty quickly (I work near a huge huge portal farm so it wasn’t too hard) … getting to 8 was a clear goal, now there isn’t such a clear goal, and I don’t feel like spending quite as much time as I was. It is fun connecting with local players – I haven’t done a meet-up yet, but that would be cool.

    The only downside is my wife doesn’t like video games. I don’t even mention the game to her anymore (I tried talking about it a few times) — when I mention it I get a list of all the work that I could be doing on the house and yard or to help her business (that she runs out of our house). She’s kind of a workaholic. The fact that I can’t play when I’m at home is a big plus for me.

    Anyway, it’s a cool game that you can dedicate as much or as little time to it as you want. I find it gets me out of the office for nice long walks at lunch … and if that’s the only time I play, well, that’s cool.

  33. Another Agent
    Another Agent August 20, 2015 at 5:34 am | | Reply

    Thank you for writing this article. It resonated with me on quite a number of levels and it reaffirmed quite a number of thoughts of my own on the game. I still play (L10 and counting) though I can’t say I’ve hit a balance yet. I did back-off for a few months, I just had too many real world commitments to continue with the time sink that is Ingress. Also, the “Rinse, and repeat” was getting a bit frustrating among other things.

    I recently took the family to Europe (from North America) and while there for two weeks I didn’t hack a single portal. Not one. I can hear the gasps and groans of some readers now. The opportunities! The uniques! I didn’t hack in Europe because I discovered something. Ingress is great at leading you to water, but it’s lousy at making you drink it.

    I travel for work and one of the places I get to go to is an old city with tons of history. I was in my glee. I’d walk 10-12 km a night until my legs were sore. I’d hack countless portals at -25 Celcius until I could hardly move. I visited scores of historical and significant places but I didn’t “see” any of them. I didn’t sit and contemplate what I was looking at. I didn’t fit the site into the context of it’s era or it’s purpose. I didn’t marvel at the architecture. No, I just saw the next portal, the dozens I had to get to. I saw the “enemies” fields and portals and had to take them down. So much to do! So little time!

    Of course it’s not Ingress’s fault that I didn’t take the time to appreciate the portals as non-players normally do. It’s just a game after all and it can’t make me do anything. However, it can get a hold of you, like any addiction, and before you know it you’re wrapped up in to the exclusion of some more important real world things.

    I’m trying to play differently now. I’m not taking it personally, I reaffirm this is all virtual and intangible and it doesn’t matter who “wins” or who has the most MU. What really grabbed me about Ingress was the phenomenal co-operation across nations and continents for the so call BAF or Big Assed Field operations. So, for those, yeah I’ll drive for an hour or two to take out an anchor or light one up because the sense of co-operation and communication is a rush. To be part of something wide and big, that’s pretty cool. The stuff at the little end? Not so much.

    So, while I didn’t hack a single portal in Europe, our family had the best vacation ever and they had 100% of my time and attention. I don’t regret for an instant at not having a unique hack for the Tower of London or the Eiffel Tower. I have the pictures and the memories of my wife and kids. Ingress doesn’t give me any of that.

    PS You’re a great writer. I’m going to have to look into the rest of you blog!

  34. wolfdancer09
    wolfdancer09 August 24, 2015 at 3:57 am | | Reply

    I have just started playing last week, currently level 4 and 4k AP to the next level. I can say that I don’t have any urge to drive out right now to reach level 5.

    Considering I did get addicted it text-based MUD game once, I want to say thank you for taking the time writing this and responding to the comments. This is serving as a good guideline for me to watch myself, I am sure there will be others benefiting in a similar way.

    The strategy referenced here also set my mind correctly on having portals/links/fields taken down or having to cross a big enemy zone everyday on my way to work. Indeed they are just AP opportunities presenting themselves. I find that perspective sets me at ease so that I can go about my life normally.

    Hope the last 12 months has been well for you, that you have been going outdoor and keeping in touch with the friends from ingress.

  35. Andrew
    Andrew October 20, 2015 at 9:31 pm | | Reply

    I’m in the process of quitting after playing for a few months and making my way to Level 10. I’ve also noticed how much time I spend on the game and how it detracts from the rest of my life. I’ve been glad to be able to put it away and forget about it for a day or two here and there but it has still taken up a lot of time. The repetition of the game also bothers me.

    Ingress seemed like a great way to get out there an exercise but, pretty soon, I found I was spending more time staring at my phone waiting out the game lag to deploy resonators or take down a portal, etc., instead of getting the cardio workout I need. For all the miles I’ve walked, I’ve managed to gain weight and spent too much time driving around to farm and hit different targets.

    As soon as I joined up with the local community, the game started to feel like a job – “Go here and drop some resonators.” … “Meet me for some farming …”. Then I dropped out of the community after arguing with them over strategy and then found out that the opposing team has been keeping a “hit list” of top enemy players whose portals they wanted to target. Both sides are taking the game too seriously and I don’t like the possibilities. I also noticed how irritated I was getting when someone would take down my portals. I took down an enemy player’s fields after he took down a bunch of my portals and then started looking for patterns of retaliation in other attacks.

    Finally, this past weekend, I decided it was enough. I still have the app installed but don’t have much desire to play. I went walking this morning and it felt good to just walk and listen to music. I only hacked one portal when I was just about home. I ran some errands and enjoyed looking around at the things I would have missed when I was keeping one eye on the phone to hack the next portal. I also felt safer. I generally did pretty good paying attention to the road but a little voice had been telling me it was only a matter of time. I tried hacking one or two portals when I’d stopped somewhere but after waiting on the game for 15 seconds or so to show the portals I knew were there, I gave up and moved on to more important things.

  36. DrCMarcus
    DrCMarcus October 22, 2015 at 4:09 pm | | Reply

    Heya, L7 RES player here. My BF (who is also a L7 RES) and I have been playing Ingress for just over a month now, and we’ve had our ups and downs with it. We live in the greater L.A. metro area, so there are lots of portals around us. We’re mostly drive-gressers; if it’s a spot we don’t have to get out of our cars to hack, then we’ll take a hack and/or whack at it. I know it kind of defeats the purpose of actually walking around to find portals, but whatever works, I suppose.

    So far, it’s been fun for the most part; highlights have included:

    • Capturing my very first portal. It was a statue in a parking lot near a park that BF captured the day before. Aside from one day that ENL took the portal when we weren’t paying attention (we were cleaning the house at the time and didn’t hear the alert), we’ve pretty much held onto the thing for all this time.

    • Our first ENL takedown. I remember BF and I trying to take down an ENL portal when we were L2 and getting nowhere, so a few more rounds of hacking and a couple of levels up, we went back, and POW!

    • Making it to L7. I’m not one of these people who eats/drinks/breathes/lives Ingress, so most of my days, I just hack to/from work, and progress is pretty slow. Every now and again, I will go into nearby ENL territory and pick out a portal or two that I can take, especially if it’s anchoring links/fields. Watching huge ENL fields shrivel up and fade away is exhilarating for me, and a few of those helped push me to L7 this past weekend.

    • My gold Guardian badge. Third time’s the charm (see below)! What’s weird for me is that it happened on a portal that I thought would have flipped a few times during that time.

    Of course, we’ve had our downs, too:

    • Encountering a local (same faction) player who seemed a mite too into the game and tried to paint himself as some sort of “boss” of the area. He practically begged us to join his hangouts group (we didn’t), and even had the audacity to tell us that “we don’t link” in “his” area (and I’ve seen countless players from both factions capturing and linking portals there since). To make matters worse, he Jarvis’ed a portal of ours apparently in “his” area that that we linked from, so that he could break the link, and then he took the portal for himself. On top of that, other players, both RES and ENL have linked in the area since. Jerk. We’re ignoring him in COMM now whenever he pops up to say hi.

    • Having a group of higher-level (L13+) ENL rampage through our farm two weeks ago, taking everything in sight (and lots more portals in the surrounding area), and staying in the area for at least 9 hours to hold onto what they took. We had gone out there that evening to try to take back what we could; we expended a lot of resources and finally took back one portal, only to find that the ENL had taken it back NOT EVEN 5 MINUTES LATER, meaning that they were still there, watching (and probably laughing at) us. We eventually went home, feeling like we’d gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson. It really stung because one of my portals that was taken was a 19-day-old one, and I had gotten oddly attached to it.

    • Having another 19-day-old portal taken, this time by a L5 ENL, just days after the carnage in the point above. This one especially frustrated me, because the portal was kind of in the boonies, where I work, and I didn’t think that someone would actually come out for it.

    We’ve since learned to not get too sentimentally attached to portals after the ENL bloodbath, though we have a few portals we’ve sworn to defend because they’re right by home. We also each have portals by our workplaces. We’re probably more into the game than casual gamers, but not so much that Ingress is always on our minds. Will this last? Who knows? We pretty much got into this because we figured it was good practice for Pokemon Go! coming out next year (we both love Pokemon), and so far so good.

  37. RecoveringXMaholic
    RecoveringXMaholic December 5, 2015 at 4:54 pm | | Reply

    I took a quick peek into Ingress again. My old account had been linked to my work Google acount, and it was deleted. So I started up on a new one just have a look around. Same situation– 2 ENL agents obsessed with the control. One of them followed me up the street to see who this ‘new RES agent’ was, and I saw him later (I knew him from before.. he’s absolutely obsessed with control.. poor guy)

    So this past Thursday I noticed 3 ENL players talking trash about me in comms. Didn’t even keep it to their own channel.
    I uninstalled game. Nothing’s changed. It’s still boring and a grind and you have to deal with obsessive-compulsives who have to recharge every portal you attack.

    None of the local blues play much. Anyone starting out stops playing due to frustration of the overwhelming control these 2-3 ENL players do in the area. One of them drives, and he will follow you around while you play, undoing your work or throwing shields on while you attack and recharge.

    He’s been known to stalk other RES agents. It’s players like these that ruin the game for everyone, no matter what faction.

    Anyway, won’t be going back unless it’s just an occasional hack or something in another city. I tried it out for a month or so, but it’s just the same thing over and over again.

    Sticking with the music though. It’s so much more rewarding and fulfilling!

  38. Dmarck
    Dmarck December 15, 2015 at 11:59 pm | | Reply

    Hi there, and have a very nice time!

    Thank you for this *very* balanced and detailed digging.

    R16 from Moscow Russia, started at beta stage (though not early), mostly casual last months, but still acting, mostly as “gear producer and philantropist” 😉


  39. RevLauren
    RevLauren January 5, 2016 at 7:19 am | | Reply

    I found your ‘journal’ of life with Ingress very interesting, thoughtful, and articulate, though I can’t say I quite share your somewhat dim view of the game. Please forgive me if this is somewhat lengthy, but brevity is not my strong suit.

    I believe that one’s enjoyment of Ingress depends largely on one’s own personality and mindset. Ingress, like any human endeavor, can bring out the best in people, or the worst. Some human beings tend toward addictive behavior; others are highly competitive, thus driven to achieve or win. Some are cooperative and function well in a team; others are ‘cowboys’ who prefer to ride alone. Some are friendly, helpful, and courteous; others are antagonistic, aggressive, and rude. And always there will be those who take it FAR too seriously. In other words, they are who they are. I really don’t believe that Ingress or any other MMORPG, or any game for that matter, transforms players into something foreign to their personality. We simply have a cross-section of humanity participating on a large scale.

    An earlier comment, from RecoveringXMaholic, kind of made me smile, ruefully. We have the same problem where I live (and play) only the reverse is true. There are some RES agents who have adopted that stalking, baiting, trash-talking strategy that most of us find so juvenile. There is one married couple who signed up their three children (two toddlers and a pre-schooler) and, in defiance of the Ingress TOS and the rules, drive around using all five phones to play. There are a couple players who spoof locations so obviously it’s almost comical. That’s just how it is.

    So how did I, a 60-year-old woman minister get involved in Ingress? My teenage nephew, a quite wonderful young man, recruited me. I did it initially to humor him, and then found it was fun, if rather baffling at first. I had just moved to a new area, and Ingressing gave me a reason to get out and discover. Within a few weeks, I was more familiar with the streets and nearby towns than I would have thought possible, and had discovered all sorts of intriguing places I probably would have missed otherwise. I also met some extremely nice ENL agents who answered all of my ‘noob’ questions patiently, once I figured out what the Comm was, and noticed people were messaging me. As time went on, I helped others in turn.

    Yes, I have had obsessive moments, especially during double AP time. Yes, a friend and I spent an entire day working our strategy for leveling up (with suitable breaks for meals and Starbucks), and I logged 850k AP in 9 hours or so. But that is an extreme exception to how I play. Many are the days I do nothing more than what I call a “pro forma” hack for the sake of my Sojourner badge (300 days… so close!), because there are other more important items on my agenda. Real life (job, family, chores, etc.) always comes first.

    Are there Ingress horror stories? Well, I don’t know about horror exactly, but certainly there have been posts about dangerous situations, aggressive confrontations, sheer stupidity, petty meanness, trespassing, driving while scanning, and, like some who have posted here, stories about how Ingress was detrimental to successfully navigating real life responsibilities. But the same can be said of drinking, gambling, Internet porn, online gaming, illegal drugs…it’s a long list, and all with, I think, rather more dire consequences than over-Ingressing.

    To me, Ingress is about the people, and there have been many stories posted about the good ones. We have a core group of agents who look after each other, not just vis a vis Ingress, but in real life. One of our number has recently fully recovered from a brain tumor, and during the past year of very difficult treatment, one of the many things (though certainly not the most important) that helped her keep forging through a bad day was Ingress. She’s a military veteran with a fighting spirit and warm heart, and a beloved leader in our community. Ingress gave her a network of people who could be called upon to give rides, chat, meet for coffee, drop gear, etc. She was in her element as a leader at two Anomalies. What an example she has set for all of us, and I would never have met her, and some other excellent human beings, had it not been for Ingress. The same can be said of those around the world who have gained friends and count themselves lucky to be part of one of the communities fostered by Ingress. It may be just a game, but at least it is one that takes place out in the real world, with real people interacting with each other, as opposed to one that is played sitting in front of a monitor or poking at a game pad until hand cramps set in.

    One night, not long after I’d begun the game, a friend (who also plays and is several years older than I) waited with me at a remote portal in a tiny and somewhat historic town I might never have thought to visit. It was cold and dark, and my phone was struggling to hold a signal. I was nervous. What if I failed to do my part? But then the order came from our operator via Zello: “You are a go.” I threw my link, at least I hoped that what I was doing, and waited anxiously for “Field Established.” And with that, 998,000 MUs were mine, and a huge field stretched over a few counties. It was just plain cool. I still get a kick out of that phrase and the sound effect that goes with it.

    Is Ingress a silly use of time? Maybe, maybe not. Silly is in the eye of the beholder. I do it because it’s fun, and if it should stop being fun, I’ll stop playing—advice I would give anyone. But in the meantime… level 16, here I come.

  40. Zoe Midyett
    Zoe Midyett March 24, 2016 at 2:41 am | | Reply

    Ingress is making me feel like I am being cheated on. Realize that I am a gamer too, but never have I been so sucked into a game, even Ultima Online (yes I know I am dating myself). I am hoping my husband of over 20 years comes to the same realization that many of you have come to. On a recent Disney World vacation every time I turned to talk to him he was 10-20 feet back on his phone hacking a portal. Now our 11 year old wonders why Daddy comes home later and later each night from work and drives into town for 2 hours instead of hanging out on a Sunday (our only day off as a family together). He was even happy with my restaurant choice as it was near a portal on our monthly meal out. Ingress players are even stopping by our store that we own together. I am beyond frustrated and would love a light-bulb, or 2 x 4 that I can thrust at him to make it stop.

  41. KC
    KC April 7, 2016 at 7:12 pm | | Reply

    I started playing because my adult son was really into it and I wanted to understand why, since he’s never been a gamer. It started out being fun. I liked to do missions as I walked for exercise and glyph hacking was a good brain game. It didn’t take long before a sociopathic troubled teen from the opposing team started stalking me. I attacked a portal before going into a store and when I came out, he had pinned my car in my parking spot. I had to call the police to get him to move. Anytime I did anything that showed up on Comm, the sociopath was there in no time calling me vulgar names and making threats. The last straw came when he parked outside of my house late one night with a cell phone scrambler so I had to wake up my neighbors to use their landline to call the police. In spite of numerous players from both sides repeatedly reporting this player to Ingress for his creepy behavior and prolific cheating, Ingress never did anything. I know my experience is not the norm but I also can’t believe it’s completely unique either. Someday a crazy player like that is going to shoot or stab someone over a portal.

  42. Loraine
    Loraine April 29, 2016 at 3:55 am | | Reply

    Did you keep walking?

  43. R
    R August 23, 2016 at 11:17 pm | | Reply

    No offense dude, but you played the game incorrectly.
    You should hace joined a Sniper Team.
    I’m captain of S2FF ( Squad 2, Filthy Few. East Grim Reapers) We’re not affiliated with out local Res community. We don’t do “meet ups”. We don’t “eat cookies”. We drive black cars with our key logo on them and we only snipe green meanie power portals that are fuelding over 500mu. We don’t do missions and most of us don’t have more than a couple of medals. Why? Because we do what we want wherever we want.

  44. Subsiding
    Subsiding September 15, 2016 at 10:12 pm | | Reply

    The urges will fade in time…

  45. Brian Bulkowski
    Brian Bulkowski December 24, 2016 at 5:46 pm | | Reply

    Hi! A quick thought on your post ( and the nature of ingress ).

    Let’s not try to compare ingress to doing something useful with your life, immersing yourself in curing cancer, or determining a new kind of math, or learning how to fabricate a new beverage.

    As a game, it appears to have about a 1 year lifespan in sensible people. That’s when most people will get bored, will have ferreted out all the interesting meanings, seen all the fun portals nearby. Likely that’s for an “optimal area”, where there is strong community and lots of portals and lots of turnover.

    What you’ve got out of the game – friends who are actually friends, and year’s worth of fun. Maybe you even learned some life lessons, like how to “be like Tzu”, maybe you already had those.

    Compare that to another game I liked a lot – RedDeadRedemption. What did I learn? Nothing. Did I make any friends? No. How long till it bored me? Probably about 100 hours. The only other game I’ve played is GTA V, and now I’ve lost all hope in games. Until ingress.

    It has longer engagement times among people who are a particular type of people. It was built for alpha-geeks, with an extraordinary level of complexity ( optimize triangle tessellation with multiple optimization parameters including the travelling salesman problem ), which would be WTF for most people. Which means, self selecting, that the people you meet playing are “your kind of people”. It’s extraordinary. I met this one guy on a bench ( my team, pre-arranged key & throw ), and once we started talking we realized we SHOULD know each other IRL but had never run into each other. That will keep me playing for quite a while.

    I think you see my point – what’s life, anyway? This “game” comes out so far ahead of other games. I hope it’s a gateway drug to reality, where one focuses on building coalitions, accomplishing greater things together.

    Thanks again for a thoughtful post.

  46. Kelly
    Kelly October 20, 2017 at 4:26 pm | | Reply


    Delayed in reading this article but it’s beautifully written and probably going to be my go-to source when someone asks me, what is ingress?

    I’ve been playing ingress for nearly 2 years. Originally downloaded as RES but faction changed at L13. As an enlightened player, leveled to 8 in 4 days and hit level 16 in just under 10 months. I am far from a casual player but have become more sporadic. It’s interesting to drop off of Intel for days at a time and then pop back up to see how local players respond.

    I initially started playing as a means to explore my new hometown of Chicago. Being from the Southeast, the Midwest is vastly different and living in the city was overwhelming so I didn’t venture out much. That had to change and it did. Immensely.

    I went from playing 2-3 hours after work to 2-3 hours before work and 4-6 hours after work. Nonstop. When I hit L8 the first time, that was the turning point for me. I was brought into the local community which I quickly learned, although good people, the enlightened community was more of my speed. I just “fit in” better there, hence, my faction change. Communities can vary greatly between cities.

    I became a liaison of sorts between factions because I had been on both sides. Everyone knew I played for the fun of the game. If bullies came about I usually targeted them, I don’t care for those that terrorize new players. And there are. There are definitely some crazies out there; the ones that forget this is a game.

    Long story short, I started as an aggressive, “hyperactive” player but have somewhat slowed down. I spend more time enjoying the new friends I’ve made than actually playing the game. I can put my scanner down for a day or a week and survive. The joy of discovering new places is why I haven’t left the game. I meet new people everytime I travel. Discover places I’ve been passing for years just by chasing portals.

    I’ve since moved back to SC and it’s entirely different here. More driving, low portal density, less players (compared to Chicago). However, I still play almost daily but I don’t play solo nearly as much. I play with my best friend. Someone that is on the other team. Someone I would have never have crossed paths with outside of ingress. A like-minded individual that sees the person behind the scanner. Factions aren’t “supposed” to interact. Rarely will you find one of us without the other which makes for quite the drama for those with nothing better to do than watch Intel. But, I digress.

    A friend told me nearly 2 years ago that for some ingress isn’t just a game. It’s a lifestyle. I laughed. And here I am, 2 years in, and, I can agree. It is a lifestyle. It’s become my lifestyle. But, it’s how you regulate it that makes ALL the difference. I can put down my scanner but, chances are, if I do and I’m with someone, they’re probably a player too, we’re just in “human” mode.

    So much for a short, long story.
    Thanks again for the awesome read!

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