In Another World

I’m going to have one blog post on this topic, and it may bore some of you or make you say “there goes Frank doing some bizarre tech thing again”. But, I think it’s worth sharing. For one thing, this is adding a new dimension to my travel explorations that is taking me to new places and enabling me to meet new people.

Late last year I started playing a new game built by Google that you play with your mobile Android device (smart phone or tablet) that requires the use of a GPS, going outdoors, and lots of walking, driving, and traveling by other means. The game is still in beta and requires an invite to play. It’s got a science fiction background story and elements of the game are invisible to non-players. It’s called an alternate reality game because you play it in the real world, but elements are not of the real world. The game is called Ingress.

Ingress PortalThe basics of the game are that objects in the real world (like statues, monuments, buildings, or anything physical of interest) can be home to what’s called a virtual portal. In the US, Google used a historical marker database as a starting point for portals. So, anything with a historical sign is likely a portal in the US as an example. But, Ingress is played all over the world, including Singapore. There are hundreds of players here.

Ingress ScannerIn the game a portal is home to energy that is used to play. There are two teams in the game who are in a competition to capture and use the portals. There are hundreds of thousands of portals all around the world as Google has ramped up the number of players. Chances are there are portals near you right now as you read this. Using your mobile app, called a scanner, you can see the portals around you as seen here. If you connect portals you can make a control field that players with the game app can see.

The two teams are either blue or green. The bigger the field, the more points you get for your team. I’ve been playing the game some while we are here in Singapore, and it has enabled me to see far more of Singapore than I would have otherwise. Not only that, but I have met some really nice techie people as well. Here’s a photo of a bunch of us when we went to visit a unique place here in Singapore.


My team is green, and a few days ago, after a week of planning, we not only turned almost all of Singapore green, but we also connected parts of Malaysia and Indonesia as well. To set this up took a lot of coordination and involved more than 25 people and a lot of time and moving around the country over two days. The event was run more like a battle operation and involved communicating with the “troops” to coordinate battles to clear paths for our links between the portals. In the end, we accomplished almost all our our objectives. You can see in the slideshow below some of the results from the maps we use in the game. The green and blue dots are portals, and the big green patches are the fields we created (our objective). So, while I was here in Singapore, I did what I could to help keep Singapore green! 🙂

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