This isn’t a game.
If you follow Android closely, you’re probably familiar with Google’s AR (augmented reality) app, Ingress, which is ostensibly a game.
Except that it isn’t. Take a look at the plot:
A mysterious energy has been unearthed by a team of scientists in Europe. The origin and purpose of this force is unknown, but some researchers believe it is influencing the way we think. We must control it or it will control us.
“The Enlightened” seek to embrace the power that this energy may bestow upon us. “The Resistance” struggle to defend, and protect what’s left of our humanity.
It doesn’t take much figuring to see that “mysterious energy” is a metaphor for “advanced technology most people don’t understand, ” e.g. an omniscient (about you) cloud, robots deeply integrated with society, uploading consciousness, and other facets of the Singularity. The Singularity is hypothetical concept/pseudoreligion whose primary
prophet exponent – Ray Kurzweil – was hired by Google to bring that hypothesis closer to reality. “The Enlightened” are those who embrace the aforesaid, while “The Resistance” refuse them.
Thus, Ingress gives Google an idea of the receptiveness of users and regions to their ambitions. In addition, by forcing users to physically move to play the game, Google is able to gauge both their level of dedication to their ideals and their geographical sphere of influence without having to resort to a check-in system a la Facebook or Foursquare.
What will Google do with this data? Probably use it to create images – akin to targeted ads, but different – of itself that are personalized on a per user basis. For example, Enlightened types may see a Google that is driving towards the future, while Resistance types may see a family oriented organization. The end result is that both support Google, but for entirely different reasons.
This would go a long way to prevent user backlashes and facilitate the election of Google-friendly politicians without much active campaign contribution from the company.
Pretty brilliant, if you ask me. Oh, and for what it’s worth, I’m in The Enlightened camp. There’s only one small problem: The Resistance force (blue in the above picture) outnumbers that of the Enlightened by a ratio of 3 to 2.