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24th May 2018 | TU Darmstadt | Faculty of Human Sciences | Media Education | Prof. Dr. Petra Grell
Petra Grell, Franco Rau, Ilaria Kosubski
Adults Playing Outside in the City. Ingress-
Gamers’ Views on Themselves, Others and
the Cultural Space .
ICA Game Studies Division Pre-Conference, Prague, 24 May 2018
Findings & Discussion
The Game Ingress
Logo of Ingress (by Niantic
Location based augmented reality game,
massively multiplayer online game
Device Smartphone or Tablet
Nov. 2012 (closed beta), Dec. 2013
(Android), July 2014 (iOS)
Downloads 10.000.000-50.000.000 (Google Playstore, Dec. 2017)
The Game Ingress
Story: Scientists discover, that earth had been
seeded with alien “Exotic Matter” (XM). Opinions
differ: Is it a threat or does it enhance humanity?
Goal: The aim is to control the worldwide existing XM
for the own faction: “Enlightened” or
“Resistance”. Therefore it is necessary to capture
"portals" (places of cultural significance) and to
link them in order to create triangular "control
fields" over geographic areas.
Gameplay: Location-based interaction only. You
physically have to walk around to play the game.
Moreover collaboration is a key factor, e.g. a high-
level portal demands items of 8 different players.
The Game Ingress
Gameplay: Individuals and groups
are walking/traveling around,
using their mobile device to scan
the environment and interact with
Strategy: Online tools (e.g. maps,
stats) can help to plan game
(in-game), mostly other group
channels (e.g. hangouts)
Communities: Self-organised local,
regional and worldwide groups
(invisible to non-members)
2 Research Design
1. In which way is playing Ingress meaningful
or significant for adults?
2. In which way does playing Ingress transform
players’ perspective on public space?
• Focus of this presentation:
What kind of meaningful interaction with others,
mediated through the game, do players
Research Design & Methods
(March – Nov. 2015)
(started in January 2016)
(started in June 2016)
• Data collection: Episodic Interviews (Flick, 2000)
• 12 players: 5 female, 7 male
• age: 20 – mid 40
• Jan. 11th – Mar. 4th, 2016
• Analysis: Grounded Theory based coding (Glaser & Strauss, 1967)
3 Findings & Discussion
1. Description of meaningful interactions
• e.g.: Episodes of social interaction; attitudes towards
social interaction; appraisal of interactions
2. Description of transitions or transformations
• e.g.: Change of interest; novice – expert
1. Meaningful Interaction:
“It’s me!” – A pleasant experience of getting noticed, being addressed,
being recognised, as a player or as an individual
“and then actually somebody asked: ‘Wait, is that you? Weren’t you the one who
cycled at night in [remote area]?’ (…) that is the reason why this was such a
highlight. In a way it leaves a deep impression because it comes up again.” (#2,
“It was nice how they all extended a warm welcome to me.” (#3, 59)
“they seriously wanted me to change to the [other faction] (…) and they do not leave
you out in the rain. A lot of people were involved” (#12, 106)
“Others” – A pleasant / fascinating experience to get to know people
easily, like-minded people and people beyond expectations
“playing virtual games, usually you won’t get to know most of the others personally. But
now you are playing a game, in which it is effectively inevitable to be face-to-
face to other players. That is fascinating.” (#8, 19)
“you are meeting other crazy people, who are as crazy as you are and you meet them
at 8 p.m. to go out to play” (#2, 255)
“I have played with very young kids and with very old people and this is - I believe -
something truly special. To me it is awesome. Simply this enormous variety.” (#4, 47)
1. Meaningful Interaction:
“Getting to know people”
“Players becoming friends” – Playing Ingress led to the development
“Significant element in existing relationships” – Playing became a
nucleus of crystallisation in partnerships
Transformation of friends and relationship
“[…] and in no time at all I made new friends” (#6, 21)
“And based on that [community building] we became real friends, out of being totally
strangers” (#10, 13)
“The game reinforced our relationship. (…) Finding a hobby in which we are both
engaged in was definitely good for our relationship.” (#8, 19)
“[…] we do have a babysitter once a week, in order to play Ingress together” (#1, 40)
“Joint Activities with and beyond Ingress” – Activities start within
Ingress and evolve
Transformation of friendships and activities
„we [2 Ingress players] were walking through [location / neighbourhood] and in the
end we are five people hanging out in a pub drinking [local wine]. That moment
was quite impressive for me.” (#5, 23)
„and then we decided to do a weekend trip to [location at the sea] and do Unique-
Captures. I enjoyed this possibility to go on vacation together” (#12, 77)
„now we have a group of players having board game nights, Ingress players and
former Ingress players, actually many who stopped playing Ingress, but who are
still involved in game nights“ (#2, 35)
Enrichment of social life “Me and we”
“the social aspect is important to me. (…) as a way to meet new people. Now I do have
a circle of friends, I don't need to play Ingress anymore. I think we could stay in
touch without playing.” (#12, 62)
“a quarter of my social life is based on Ingress.” (#8, 23)
“if you reflect yourself, at night, 1 a.m., I am on a stroll, with completely strange men,
the only female, and at home husband and child (…) that’s funny, beyond role
expectations” (#1, 78)
Using the game as a (temporary or constant) opportunity to
enrich social life
Using the game to be a bit nerdy
„Layered Reality“ and complex
transformative learning („Bildung“)
Water Fountain, Darmstadt CC-by-nc-sa Grell & Rau Aug. 12, 2016
Chess, Shira (2014): Augmented Regionalism: Ingress as Geomediated Gaming Narrative. In: Information,
Communication & Society. Volume 17, Issue 9, p. 1105-1117.
Domahidi, Emese ; Festl, Ruth & Quandt, Thorsten (2014): To dwell among gamers: Investigating the relationship
between social online game use and gaming-related friendships. In: Computers in Human Behavior 35 (2014) pp.
Flick, U. (2000). Episodic Interviewing. In: M.W. Bauer & G. Gaskell (Eds.), Qualitative Researching with Text, Image
and Sound (pp. 75-92). London: Sage.
Glaser, B. & Strauss, A.(1967): The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research. Chicago:
Hodson H. (2012): Google's Ingress game is a gold mine for augmented reality, New Scientist, Vol. 216. 19.
Kasapakis, V. & Gavalas, D. (2015): Pervasive Gaming: Status, Trends and Design Principles. Journal of Network
and Computer Applications. Vol. 55, pp. 213-236. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jnca.2015.05.009
Majorek, M. & Du Vall, M. (2015): Ingress: An Example of a New Dimension in Entertainment . In: Games and
Culture. 1-23. DOI: 10.1177/1555412015575833
Manwaring, K. & Clarke R. (2015): Surfing the third wave of computing: A framework for research into eObjects. In:
Computer Law & Security Review, Vol. 31, pp. 586-603. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clsr.2015.07.001.
Morschheuser, B.; Riar, M.; Hamari, J.; Maedche, A. (2017): How games induce cooperation? A study on the
relationship between game features an we-intentions in an augmented reality game. In: Computer in Human
Behavior 77 (2017) 169-183.
Reinhardt, D. & Heinig, C. (2016): Survey-based exploration of attitudes to participatory sensing task in location-
based gaming communities. In: Pervasive and Mobile Computing. 27-36.
Stingeder, K.H. (2013): Googles Augmented-Reality-Game "Ingress". In: Medienimpulse, 4/2013.
A way to get to know a city
„However in some way, you get to know the city from a different
perspective, you pay attention to things you haven‘t seen before, or
you give thought to a monument, that you have passed by ten times,
but have never ever realized it is there. (#8, 42)
Also man lernt ja trotzdem irgendwie, ähm, die Stadt auch von einer anderen Seite kennen, so achtet auf Dinge, die man
vorher gar nicht gesehen hat, oder macht sich auch Gedanken über, über ein Denkmal, wo man vorher schon zehn Mal
dran vorbei gelaufen ist, aber dieses Denkmal (I2: Ja.) nie irgendwie so, so auf dem Schirm hatte“ (#8, 42).
„To get to know a city, by a phone, to get to know it through the game,
that is absolutely crazy for other people.“ (#8, 4)
Genau, und jetzt so eine Stadt halt von einem Telefon, also von, über das Spiel kennenzulernen, ist vollkommen verrückt für
andere.“ (#8, 4).
Get to know a city
Ingress Pokémon Go
Location based augmented reality game,
massively multiplayer online game, Pervasive Game,
Entwickler Niantic / (Google)
Nov. 2012 (closed beta), Dec.
2013 (Android), July 2014
(Google Playstore, December
750.000.000 (Niantic 2018)
Ingress & PokémonGo
State of Research (at the start of
project in 2015)
Focus of articles/Focus of inquiry Authors
Presentation/Description of Ingress as
an augmented reality game
Hodson (2012); Stingeder
Storytelling and narrative of Ingress /
Chess (2014); Majorek, M. &
Du Vall, M. (2015)
Analysis of specific applications or
Kasapakis & Gavalas (2015);
Manwaring & Clarke (2015);
Reinhardt & Heinig (2016)
Social Online Gaming, game related
ties and friendship**
Domahidi, Festl & Quandt
* Ingress as an example
** Ingress mentioned within the outlook
Methods – Interview
1. Interest & becoming a part / getting into it
• e.g. Could you share your experiences in the beginning
• e.g.: Have you had some special/thrilling experiences
with Ingress or Ingress players?
3. Me-Game-Public Space
• e.g.: Do the real-world-objects, that are portals, mean
something to you?
4. Resume/In a nutshell
• What is the most important thing, in just a few words?