I met another player of a location-based game for the first time yesterday. Like, really met.
We are both active in Burbank (where we work), and I noticed him because I was wandering the same area that he was, hacking portals and putting up fields – playing Ingress. Being that he is level 8, level 6 XMP bursters (weapons, for the uninitiated) aren’t that useful for him, and he’s also trying to help out. So he calls me out on the comms and says he’d like to give me 100 of them, which I’d love to have.
I walked down the street – his office is about four blocks away from mine – and felt the surreal sensation of going to meet somebody who I don’t know at all other than via strings of text on a game screen. Is it that guy ? A very thin, tall, dweeby guy was hanging out on the street avoiding eye contact. I walked closer, and he continued to avoid eye contact. OK, probably not him.
Ah – I see it now. My new buddy dropped something on the game map, and the Ingress client is showing it on the scanner. I walk around the corner and head purposefully towards the resonator. A man is sitting on a garden wall smoking a cigarette. He sees me walking towards him, phone in hand, and stands up and looks at me.
I feel completely silly. “Hi…… (Game name) ?”
“Hi. I’m Doc Burbank”
Speaking this stuff was the weirdest sensation I’ve had in forever. There’s very little sound coming out of my phone, which is always silent. My PC headset never gets used – I think my daughter stole it to make voiced videos with. My wife obstinately knows nothing about gaming so we can’t talk about stuff. I just never speak anything about gaming, and here I am.
We had a short and good conversation. He had a few ideas about the game which I listened to. Brand Blvd in Glendale is apparently also a great place to play the game. I appreciated all the stuff he gave me, said goodbye, then I walked back to the office.
Some things I’m noticing playing Ingress.
- Wow. Outside. It’s not just something you do with your family, there’s a lot going on when you walk around anyplace. I see more crazy people, more cops, and more people checking me out as I walk in circles around a portal.
- I swear to God – everyone is on their phone. OK, not everyone, but 80% of people. I guess I never noticed before because…… I was on my phone. I felt many times that sensation “Hey – is he playing Ingress?”, but pretty sure none of them ever were.
- I’ve walked 100 kilometers in the last three weeks. I may lose some weight if this keeps up.
- I love Burbank. I love playing a game that makes me remember all the little spots around town that are cool, and introduces me to a few additional ones. The usual game rot exists in Ingress too, the church that doesn’t exist anymore is a portal I’d like to claim for the Resistance.
- I continue to have the feeling that I’ll get suddenly sick of the whole game, but for the moment I can hardly stop playing.
- Taking a break at work ? Sure ! That means I can claim a portal or do some links. This is not typical behavior, I usually grind away at my work constantly. That, plus going out for lunch instead of sitting at my desk blogging.
- Honey, you want me to run an errand ? SURE ! Time to drive over to Freedom’s Way again ( I eventually lost the portal but I want it back). Normally she has to beg me to run errands.
And today, I got halfway to Level 8.