Hack. Meet. Treat. Repeat.

Gamers in multiple cities across the country will come together on November 5 to celebrate Ingress’ First Saturday, reports ALLAN MOSES RODRICKS

November 02, 2016 03:29 pm | Updated December 02, 2016 01:01 pm IST - Bengaluru

Game on With Ingress Photo: Murali Kumar K.

Game on With Ingress Photo: Murali Kumar K.

Come Saturday and historic places across India will see visitors of a different kind. The multitudes are expected to gather at city centres in the country and embark on a mission to change the fate of humanity. Don’t worry; you won’t feel the difference since all the action will take place on their mobile phones.

Welcome to the world of Ingress. For the uninitiated, the multi-player, location-based, augmented-reality game is a mobile application developed by Niantic Inc. (the same guys who developed Pokémon GO), played between two groups called factions – the Resistance (blue) and the Enlightened (green).

While the factions generally battle each other by capturing, linking and fielding real locations of public interest called portals, the First Saturday (FS) of every month is a time when the Ingress gaming community comes together globally for cross-faction camaraderie. With November 5 marking the second anniversary of the Ingress FS, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Mumbai are celebrating the event in style.

Hosted by players themselves, the FS is an opportunity to meet, greet, level up and socialise in the premise of a game that is heavily community-driven and fitness-centred. Tejas Chowbina (agent name: @Chowbina), the Resistance FS organiser for Bengaluru and Keerthan K.L. (@Tsunami7), the Enlightened FS organiser, say Ingress is a very practical game and has played a pivotal role in bringing the gamers of the city and country together. “It is almost like a movement – helping people to move out of their homes to play, visit new locations, discover unknown places, get fit, gain confidence, make new friends and connect with people from all walks of life,” they chorus.

M. Arul, (@arkarul), the Enlightened FS organiser in Chennai, says the whole point of the game is to have fun and FS is one such occasion for newbies and veterans to mingle.

“This is also an opportunity for people to find out if this game is for them. This is not a game for lazy people,” he laughs and adds: “There is no other game like this. Pokémon GO does not even come close. Ingress can be extremely challenging and equally frustrating.”

A game like Ingress encourages people to get out of the house, he points out. “Ingress rewards exploration, co-ordination and interaction. It can transform your dreary commute to and from office into an exciting trip. It is a very social game which can also be played alone. You can play with a few friends, the gamers in your city or state, or even make friends and interact internationally. It gives you all those opportunities yet it doesn’t demand interaction and your daily time like so many other games.”

His Resistance counter-part Murugan Kombiah (@Encrypter17) says the FS is an action-packed opportunity to get a taste of the most epic augmented reality game of all time. “The FS is also a chance to understand the game and meet the top players in and around the city as well as explore the world through the eyes of Ingress.”

Followed by small team-building activities to enjoy the evening, FS has something for everyone, he emphasises. “Prizes and swags for top agents in the event are awarded as well. Ingress inspires people to explore the city and visit places we’ve often overlooked in our daily life. At a time when the technology boom has made outdoors games practically extinct, Ingress is probably the only mobile game that actually makes you go outside and enjoy the game while burning some calories. “Long walks, lot of friends (a few enemies too, only in the game), traveling for ops and lots of fun, there are so many fond memories this game gives.”

Shaifali Gupta (@Magiee) is organising the event in Hyderabad and is thrilled about the meet-up. “We are looking forward to finally meet people who know only as their in game names. This is a chance to give a face to the name and meet new players who will join that day. Ingress is one of the few games that has everyone, from students to working professionals, children to grandparents, coming together.”

Mumbai’s Shannon Barrid, (PappaFirangi), points out that the game will allow people to discover more about the city. “Most of the portals we interact with have historical value. We are rediscovering our city’s heritage through Ingress.”

Meanwhile, the faraway Middle East, will see its first ever First Saturday event in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Houssam el Touny, the Resistance contact there (@DARKoo7), says this is a historic moment for both Resistance and Enlightened communities. “We will also get to know one another and move from strangers to friends, rather than just two factions trying to decide the fate of humanity.”

Bengaluru’s FS will be at Army Memorial Park, Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain. Chennai will host it at Panagal Park, Mumbai at Carter Road, Hyderabad at Tank Bund and Dubai at Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House. Download the game on the app store and check out your local Ingress community online.

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