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Grell & Rau - Ingress In Adult Life - ECER2016


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Ingress is a real time, location-based, social online game, that is continuously played on smartphones. The virtual playground is based on the physical world, visible through maps of earth. Each player needs to choose one of the two combatting factions and aligns oneself with a local community.The purpose of the research is to generate an extensive understanding of the meaning of this game for players and communities. The main question, in which way this game influences or broadens players’ views on urban space, on communities and environments is based on an understanding of Bildung as a process of orientation and transformation.

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Grell & Rau - Ingress In Adult Life - ECER2016

  1. 1. 24th August 2016 | TU Darmstadt | Faculty of Human Sciences | Media Education | Petra Grell & Franco Rau Petra Grell & Franco Rau Ingress In Adult Life – How an Augmented Reality Social Game Broadens the Perspective. ECER 2016, Network 6 06 SES 09, Video Games and Mobile Games
  2. 2. 1 2 3 The Game & Current State of Research Research Design Findings & Discussion 2
  3. 3. The Game Ingress Logo of Ingress (by Niantic 3 Genre Location based augmented reality game, massively multiplayer online game pervasive game, Device Smartphone or Tablet Release Nov. 2012 (closed beta), Dec. 2013 (Android), July 2014 (iOS) Developer Niantic/Google Downloads 10.000.000-50.000.000 (Google Playstore, August 2016)
  4. 4. 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. 4
  5. 5. The Game Ingress Gameplay: Individuals and groups are walking/traveling around, using their mobile device to scan the environment and interact with portals. Strategy: Online tools (e.g. maps, stats) can help to plan game activities Communication: chat-interface (in-game), mostly other group channels (e.g. hangouts) Communities: Self-organised local, regional and worldwide groups (invisible to non-members) 5
  6. 6. Current State of Research 6 Focus of articles/Focus of inquiry Authors General perspective, Viewpoints Presentation/Description of Ingress as an augmented reality game Hodson (2012); Stingeder (2013) Game Studies Storytelling and narrative of Ingress / game characteristics Chess (2014); Majorek, M. & Du Vall, M. (2015) Applied Computer science Analysis of specific applications or design principles* Kasapakis & Gavalas (2015); Manwaring & Clarke (2015); Reinhardt & Heinig (2016) Social Science Social Online Gaming, game related ties and friendship** Domahidi, Festl & Quandt (2014) * Ingress as an example ** Ingress mentioned within the outlook
  7. 7. 7 2 Research Design
  8. 8. Basic Assumptions •  New (technology supported) mediatised structures •  … can create/evoke new ways of social interactions with other people •  … can influence the way to look at/consider things/ ideas in the world 8
  9. 9. Research Questions 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 describe/ reflect? 9
  10. 10. Research Design & Methods 10 Ethnographic experience (March – Nov. 2015) Interview study (started in January 2016) Interface analysis (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)
  11. 11. Methods – Interview 1.  Interest & becoming a part / getting into it •  e.g. Could you share your experiences in the beginning of playing? 2.  Me-Game-Other •  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? 11
  12. 12. 12 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 transformation
  13. 13. 1. Meaningful Interaction: “Encounter/Recognition” 13 “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, 130-132) “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)
  14. 14. “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” 14
  15. 15. “Players becoming friends” – Playing Ingress led to the development of friendships “Significant element in existing relationships” – Playing became a nucleus of crystallisation in partnerships 15 2. Process: 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)
  16. 16. “Joint Activities with and beyond Ingress” – Activities start within Ingress and evolve 16 2. Process: 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)
  17. 17. Discussion & Outlook: Enrichment of social life “Me and we” 17 “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
  18. 18. Petra Grell @PGrell (Twitter) 18 Thank you! Water Fountain, Darmstadt CC-by-nc-sa Grell & Rau Aug. 12, 2016 Franco Rau @FrancoRau (Twitter)
  19. 19. References 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. 107–115. 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: Aldine Hodson H. (2012): Google's Ingress game is a gold mine for augmented reality, New Scientist, Vol. 216. 19. http:// Kasapakis, V. & Gavalas, D. (2015): Pervasive Gaming: Status, Trends and Design Principles. Journal of Network and Computer Applications. Vol. 55, pp. 213-236. 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. 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. 2016.01.001 Stingeder, K.H. (2013): Googles Augmented-Reality-Game "Ingress". In: Medienimpulse, 4/2013. http:// 19