Thursday 11 April 2013

What is Ingress?

Relates to this post and this page

Further use of my font in relation to the Ingress game by Niantic Labs (A subdivision of Google). The designer, Paul Gettle, was kind enough to write out an explanation of the game and how my font has been used. Paul's image is a logo for an Ingress 'team'.

Following image and words by Paul Gettle.

"Ingress is many things.

On the surface, it's a smartphone game that's equal parts Capture the Flag, Geocaching, and Scavenger Hunt.

Some have likened it to every dog in the neighborhood having to come by to pay a visit to the telephone pole on the corner -- a description that while unflattering, is also rather accurate.

Many believe that it's a secret plot by Google to have unpaid labor gather walking-path data for all the places that the Google Maps car can't drive, as well as photos of local landmarks and public art installations.

Google themselves have joked that it's their way of getting gaming nerds out of their basement caves to have a walk in the fresh air.

Where it really gets interesting though, is in the backstory of the game's sci-fi spy-movie plot, parceled out on a daily basis, with passcodes for in-game bonuses hidden inside, to keep the audience coming back for more. Sometimes the code is a set of altered pixels in an image, only discoverable by adjusting the image contrast to the far extreme. Sometimes, it's snippets of invalid HTML buried inside a webpage's source code, errors skipped over harmlessly by the web broswer's page rendering, but available to those who know to look for it. In the case of your font, the codes were presented in plain sight. The cryptography enthusiasts who play at this side of the game took it in stride as a simple substitution cypher, except instead of a scrambled alphabet being substituted for the real one, it was a set of symbols they had never seen before. It wasn't until the next day, when a hint was posted mentioning asemic writing, that they even started following the breadcrumb trail back to your font. They had already found the meaning they needed to find, learning the context didn't come until later.

I am not one of those cryptography enthusiasts. I follow Ingress' story for its own sake.The premise is quite compelling to me. Scientists discover that man is not alone in the universe, that there is an extra-dimensional intelligence that may very well be the source of scientific and artistic inspiration throughout human history, guiding us to a point in our development where we can detect and eventually communicate with them. However certain segments of the government worry that this inspiration is nothing more than a dangerous form of mind control and want to keep things secret until they can do studies on how best to weaponize the discovery for the protection of humanity. Alas, secrets never keep, and now both sides battle for control of the hearts and minds of populations across the globe.

I for one, am on the side of the dreamers who are chasing their muse, wanting to find out what heights can be achieved when we fully make contact. This is also the side that I made the logo for. Amusingly enough, the asemic element I added (which isn't as asemic as it could be, as it merely echos the readable text) has already gotten one of the Columbia players trying to read things into "the squiggly bits". He couldn't decide if it was "scientia potentia est" (awesome), "my ass itches" (ehhh...), or "Everything with a side of Bacon" (also pretty awesome)."

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