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Ingress, the best smartphone strategy game for travelers

When I traveled to Medan in North Sumatra on a whim, I didn’t expect to meet locals or go to a highly recommended restaurant but it was meeting agents from this Indonesian city that made these possible and my trip memorable. All thru a strategy game that takes place in the real world to play. Be it in the stillness of a church in Zamboanguita, Negros Oriental, where I anchored a major field in the Visayas, a mission day event in Taipei which I visited for the first time and got intimately acquainted with the city, or coming back to Bangkok to meet a Thai agent to transport virtual keys from the Philippines for a future operation, while doing a mission around Chulalongkorn University. All in the name of fun and discovery.

As you go around, as you travel, the world around you is not what it seems. Our future is at stake and you must chose a side.

Ingress game what?

Ingress is a location based smartphone game from Niantic, the makers of Pokemon Go. It’s not just any kind of strategy game for android and IOS powered devices, but one with a storyline and must be played outside. It starts with a mysterious energy, discovered by a group of scientists calling it exotic matter (XM) and you must chose a side: the Resistance (my faction) is colored blue, struggle to defend what’s left of humanity from this energy, and the Enlightened, colored green, seek to embrace this energy for the benefit of mankind. Players are called agents and the game is a good combination of maps, games, exercise and teamwork.

It’s the battle for portals and exotic matter between these two factions where gameplay evolves. You capture portals, or destroy enemy ones. You link and form fields to reign in exotic matter, the bigger, the better. All these happening in public places with designated portals comprised of statues in public parks, churches, public artworks, historic buildings and structures and many others and most of the time, you are encouraged to walk. Global events like mission days and Anomalies occurring regularly in different cities keep the community of players active and local factions stage regular operations that forge closer ties, from Cebu City, to Manila, from Southeast Asia to Europe and the Americas. It is a global community of Ingress players.

Ingress as part of traveling

Beyond gameplay, it’s the added benefits of being in an active community that makes this more an Ingress thing. Some players from Metro Manila:

I got to meet new people in every place I visited, whether Bicol or Taiwan, there’s always a friendly Ingress community waiting to welcome you.

– Agent CreatixAnimi

There will be new reasons to discover new places, be it a historical landmark or a peculiar object in an area, portals found inside the game give you more meaning to explore your surroundings.

– Agent KamoteKidd

It has been my escape during my Malaysia days, being assigned abroad. And it did help me meet new friends and lasting connections.

– Agent IorekByrnisonn

Why I love this game

As a frequent traveler, Ingress is a great way to explore the city. Official Mission Days always have interesting mission highlights, usually tourist spots, to visit and complete. Doing agent created missions can give you deeper understanding of a particular town, its history or important persons. Other missions can introduce and bring you to interesting public artworks and parks that you otherwise miss. But what I like most is receiving a random message in the game itself from another local agent inviting me to meet up with other local players. It’s these moments that you feel you belong wherever you are, whatever place you visit.

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Souvenirs from the recently held Cassandra Prime Anomaly and Mission Day in Singapore, September 2018
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Agents gathered at one of the conference rooms of Marina Bay Sands for the closing of Cassandra Prime Anomaly in Singapore, September 2018
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Top photos: During EXO5 Anomaly in Cebu; Bottom photos: Mission Day Cebu, November 2017
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Group picture of all Ingress agents coming from different neighboring countries like Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia with some European agents at the close of EXO5 Anomaly in Cebu, November 2017
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Filipino agents during Melaka Mission Day, 2017
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Meeting agents from Medan, North Sumatera, Indonesia during my trip to that city
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Top photos: Taipei Mission Day, 2018; Bottom, EXO5 Anomaly in Taipei before the start of the game

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