If you were in downtown Tacoma or the Stadium district Saturday afternoon, it was difficult to miss the groups of blue and green clad people roaming purposefully around town, much of the time staring down at phones.
They came from all over – about 1,000 people in all – to play Ingress, a game created by Google. Described by one participant as “Capture the Flag on phones,” Ingress is an app for Android and IOS. In the description: “Ingress transforms the real world into the landscape for a global game of mystery, intrigue and competition. Our future is at stake. You must choose a side.”
On Saturday, Tacoma was the scene of a live Ingress “event” staged by Google, one of a dozen or so held this year worldwide. Other cities have included Prague, Taipei, Chicago, Munich and Detroit.
“Tacoma is rich in art and history,” said Yennie Solheim, in partner development with Google in San Francisco. “That’s part of the game, experiencing the world around you.”
She said seven Google staffers were in Tacoma to run the event.
The initial gathering place was Wright Park around lunchtime. It looked a bit like a gathering in The Hunger Games‘ Capitol. The 1,000 or so excited participants milled about, adorned in all sorts of creative blue and green attire, plus T-shirts that were sold in the park. Prior to arriving, people chose which to join as agents. Blue is the Resistance. Green is the Enlightened. Members of the Resistance far outnumbered the Enlightened.
“That’s because more people like to be evil,” an Enlightened agent said.
“We want to live forever,” another of the Enlightened said.
A Resistance agent counters his side is on the right. “We’re the good guys.”
Here’s more description from the app: “A mysterious energy has been unearthed by a team of scientists in Europe. The origin and purpose of this force is unknown, but some researchers believe it is influences the way we think. We must control it or it will control us. “The Enlightened’ seek to embrace the power that this energy may bestow on us. ‘The Resistance’ struggle to defend and protect what is left of our humanity.”
Many agents traveled from afar to play the game, places including Seattle, Vancouver (WA and BC), Boise, Eugene, Portland, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Montana – and, reportedly, Norway and the United Kingdom.
After a huge group photo, Susanna Moyer, an Ingress celebrity, sent the agents off with words of inspiration: “Deeper power will belong to only one faction.”
Google reps handed out swag (flashing badges, stickers, bottles of Hint water with passcodes under the caps), then teams gathered to organize and set off. There were walking teams (the largest contingent), bike teams and car teams.
Will – or Commander Toast – from Longview was captain of a car team. “We have four agents and two infants.” He said he didn’t expect the infants to be much help.
No doubt, you’d have to play to fully understand how Ingress works. “It’s a little like geocaching,” one participant said.
“I just neutralized a portal,” another was heard to say a half hour or so after the 1 p.m. start time.
At the end of the day, an Ingress tweet reveals that the Resistance won the Tacoma event.
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