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I published a 2,500-word essay over on The Gameshelf (the long-running blog-space I share with Andrew Plotkin) about my week playing Ingress, Google’s augmented-reality (and slightly alternate-reality) game.
I had terrific fun for the span of a single weekend, but it ended up souring on me quickly. Before a week had passed, I had deleted the game from my phone, and found the willpower to keep it off. My problems with Ingress stemmed from how I found myself unable to stop playing the game. I don’t refer to addictive, repetitive play, here, even though it does involve a bit of level-up grinding. Rather, I mean that I felt literally unable to enter a state where I was not playing Ingress. I would put my phone away, I would get back to work, and yet I was still playing Ingress. I found this total bleed-through of game and life initially novel, then uncanny, and finally uncomfortable, especially once I started interacting with other local players. This culminated in an angry and cowardly action my part, the last thing I did within the game world.
Before describing this negative effect any further, I shall describe three inarguably positive experiences I enjoyed via Ingress during that first weekend.
Meta: That essay is the first significant post I’ve made to the The Gameshelf since I revived this, my personal blog, last December. I wondered if perhaps I should cross-post it, or just post it here instead of there. I ultimately decided to see how it felt to keep my occasional games-heavy writing on Gameshelf for now, and simply linking to it from this blog, much as I also do from Twitter. I don’t expect that my posts there will ever become so frequent that I’ll start finding this pattern irritating or inappropriate.
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