November 24, 2014

A game that helps you get fit

I have been gaining a bit of weight and never seem too motivated to go running. Recently I discovered a method so utterly fantastic it not only makes me want to get active, but I am motivated to go out for a walk or run much more frequently than I can. I actually look forward to it. I am so motivated and distracted to go on that I can now do 15km runs when I was struggling after 5km.

It's called Ingress and if you don't know it, it's an augmented reality game designed by Google, essentially it is a geotagging inspired war between 2 factions. A layer of science fiction fantasy over the real world. The introduction explains – “You have downloaded what you believe to be a game, but it is not”. I smirked at this, but quickly started to realised that it felt like much more than just a game, because of 2 important points – the places are real and the players are real. The idea is to capture portals in the real world, deploy bombs turrets and shields, ultimately gain ground from the opposing faction and gain power as you go. There are millions of players around the world and the struggle is continuous, so the motivation to claim the portals and level up to beat the opposition gets you motivated beyond anything I have ever tried in my life. Ingress is a compelling game and not specifically designed as a fitness aid, the motivation to exercise is a happy side-effect of what is an excellent game. A word of warning though, the players take it so seriously you start questioning – is it really fantasy if everyone involved believes in the cause to an almost religious degree? When I am running between portals being followed by a car from the opposite faction or when 2 hooded men step out of a shadowy doorway as you explode an EMP pulse weapon near their portal, it is then that I start wondering if it is really just a game.

This is not an ad, Ingress is a 100% free game (free NOT freemium) produced by Google as an overlay on their mapping infrastructure. It’s available for android and more recently for IOS which opens the game up to the iPhone user base. Download it, get confused, question the point, persevere and then wish you found out about this years ago.

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