Just What is it About Ingress?

A couple of days ago I was mentioned in a blogpost written by Jenny in Neverland, her post was about people’s hobbies and how it is a good thing we are all different. I had said that I enjoy playing Ingress.

Shortly after the post went up I received several messages on Twitter asking what Ingress is, and why I play it. This inspired me to go into a bit more detail and share this with you, after all Twitter doesn’t give much room for conversation sometimes!

I discovered Ingress because I was looking for ways to help me deal with my social anxiety. I wanted to find ways to get myself out of the house and walking. The problem with my anxiety is that sometimes just opening the front door is a huge problem so getting outside is an accomplishment. But walking down the road is hard as I then have to deal with people, just walking past someone can be a real problem.

I read a post someone had put up talking about Ingress and how it had changed their life. They talked about how they had gone from not leaving the house to going out every day and the combination of being able to have their headphones in, looking at the telephone screen, and having a purpose to their walks had helped them build confidence when they were out. They had eventually started to meet up with other players and built a friendship group and over a number of months felt pretty much anxiety free.

Having read this post I decided to research more about Ingress, I’d heard it mentioned a few times back when I was working, but I was so busy I had let it go over my head and hadn’t paid much attention. When I researched I saw it was exactly the kind of thing that appealed to my inner geek.

I downloaded Ingress the same day and signed up, the first thing you have to do is pick a faction the Resistance (blue) or Enlightened (green). You can’t switch once you’ve chosen so you want to make sure you are happy with your choice.

I went with Resistance, having discovered they were nicknamed Smurf’s (I do love me a Smurf!). I completed training first, which helps you get a handle on the basics then tried to get a feel for what was local to me. It was during this time the Bristol Resistance messaged me in game inviting me to join their local community on Google+. I signed up and was added to their Google Hangout.

Over the six months I’ve been playing I’ve got more chatty online with the local community, I haven’t met any of them yet or been to any meet ups but I’m getting closer to crossing that line. But they are a great group and have been really helpful, offering guidance and advice. I live in an area with a small number of portals to work with so haven’t levelled up as quickly as some people do, and some days I can’t get over my anxiety to get out.

I could go into the centre of Bristol to have a better chance of levelling up with more portals, but again my social anxiety gets in the way of dealing with that so I tend to stay in my little bubble and just jog along. A few new players started playing this week a mile or so away and it’s felt good to pass on the help others have given me.

There’s a real sense of achievement in getting badges (which you need to level up at certain points) and keeping hold of portals, which are constantly under attack from the other faction. The great thing about Ingress is that this is a game in the real world, so much so you often forget it’s a game. You aren’t playing against a computer, but real people, they could be your neighbour, your brother, your cousin, your best friend! You also get plenty of exercise, yesterday I walked 7kms playing Ingress.

As for my social anxiety, it’s definitely improving. I’m getting out more, I’m coping with people in public better and I’m having a lot less panic attacks so it’s definitely going in the right direction. I’m under no illusions, bipolar is the gift that just keeps giving so I’m likely to have bad anxiety again, but I now have a good coping mechanism to add to the toolkit.

As getting people to sign up is a badge-worthy achievement, if you fancy giving Ingress a go, drop me an email at BrizzleLassClaire@gmail.com and I will send you an invite!


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