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I spent a few years playing Ingress by Niantic Labs, creators of Pokemon Go. I really enjoy Ingress because it’s all of the things I like about geocaching such as finding new places and getting outside, but without the downsides like spending an hour searching for something that wasn’t there. Ingress is also similar to geocaching, where you can go solo or with other people and, it’s location-based. But that is where the similarities end.

Getting started is pretty easy, you need to get the app for your phone, pick a team, and off you go. The whole game is based on using your scanner1 to go portals2 that have been approved by the community. However, there is a web/desktop site with a map of the current state of the game, along with other game-related things and of course, a store. The game is free to play, but you can still buy the additional inventory to use in-game.

There is a story that goes with the game, although you don’t need to follow any of it to play8. Once you have the game installed, it will show you where the portals are that are closest to you. To see portals in a specific area you have to check the map on the Niantic site. The goal is to link portals together to form fields3 and the score is tallied every 5 hours, the team with the most points wins that cycle.

Another interesting aspect of the game is you get points based on MU, which the amount of population within the confines of the field4. A large field between California and Hawaii is not worth as many points as a smaller field over a major metropolitan area. The tricky part is that links between portals may not cross, this is where teamwork comes into play. In most cases, the larger the links and amount of MU, the more people it may take to connect those links. Imagine trying to connect links across a state or even a country!

To link portals together, you have to physically visit that location, and once there, find or capture7 a portal so it is owned by your team. From there, you need the key5 from the distant portal so you can throw6 a link to it. Obviously, this makes long-distance links even more difficult since they can't cross other links.


Here are a few tips that helped me early on:

  • Link to “nearest neighbor” until you get the hang of the game. While it’s a good idea to throw a lot of links early on for XP, don’t block other teammates or even worse, yourself.
  • Long tap the fire button for bonus XP (This blew my mind the first time someone showed me this trick)
  • Meeting up with other players can be fun and also a good way to get help (and gear!)
  • Attending one of the frequent worldwide events is a great time

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  1. The app, on your phone. 

  2. Points of interest, where there is an augmented reality marker that can only be seen in the game. 

  3. Connecting three portals makes a field. 

  4. Fields are measured in MU (aka Mind Units) 

  5. You can only get a key by physically visiting a portal, with one exception; you can obtain a key from another player, whether they drop it or give it to you. 

  6. Connect a portal to another. 

  7. Using in-game equipment. 

  8. You can find more about the story with in-game media and on the website.