Wednesday, 8 May 2013

google chief game designer ingress

Ingress, Google and the cheif game designer

So Google has hired a Chief Game Designer called Noah Falstein; as of starting to draft this post there was no reason why, which has now been updated courtesy of the Tech and Coffee group, so I thought it apt (no pun intended) to post on the Google labs Ingress app, which I have been meaning to do for a while as I think Google are onto something, something very big indeed, in fact its mobile marketing and mobile gaming gold...

Its still in closed beta, so you will need an invite to play, but from some of the screens you start to get a view of why its not only marketing gold, but also a very interesting trend in mobile gaming (anyone mentions "gamification" now; please leave).

Ingress mobile marketing gold

Ingress subliminal mobile marketing

Every so often you see a trend in marketing that verges on subliminal marketing, but is, and should remain perfectly legal, but just as effective. Ingress is one of them. On the ingress game you see a series of dots, these are XM (see the Ingress wikipedia entry for explanation) which we believe, are lead to believe or hope is mobile phone activity... android or chrome activity? The concept that android, the chrome browser, Google maps, apps, etc is everywhere is quite a powerful one - much more powerful, visual and direct than the assumption that Google's traffic data for example, requires a solid base of android devices. The first perception is that Google is everywhere, and it is now mobile everywhere.
The dots are XM; chrome, apps and android users?

Ingress local marketing gold

The second level of marketing gold is the fact that people like Zipcar have entered all of their car locations. This now makes me not only aware of how close all my local Zipcars are, but it also asks me to enter the car's details... if the car is available: I now know not only where all my local Zipcars are, but what model and when they tend to be available... unfortunately I am no longer a member of Zipcar as they tried to bill me when my card was stopped, and after 2 years of loyal service decided that sending me a court order was the logical way to inform me of this, and still continued to pursue this despite paying the amount settled... there are some things no amount of marketing can overcome in the social networking age... but were this not the case; it would be good marketing for thee right target audience. Convenience stores, restaurants, bars, cycle hire schemes (please Google add the London Barclays bicycle hire scheme) and more can be interactive in a way that Foursquare never really managed to get a grip.
Google ingress is mobile marketing gold for localised businesses
Personally I think Zipcar have missed another trick here, as each location's car should have an image of the car or van in question... doh!

Ingress experiential marketing gold

One of the types of Ops (PC way of saying weapons or arsenal) is media, which at the moment is just marketing the game but could easily provide a key experiential marketing tool to more points via an experiential video... where you want it, when you want it; do I need to go on???
Ingress delivering an experiential video where, when and to whom you want...

Ingress tribal marketing gold

This is my last post on marketing, and yes I did put lots of marketing points first to wind up the certain kind of geek who has been marketed to by Google so well they do not know it and still think they hate marketing, when in fact they have just never bothered to take the time to understand it... at the moment
Why stop at two factions, why just ingress, the next app could be whatever brand  you subscribe to
However, where Google has truly triumphed, is how it has managed to keep something special scarce in mobile, and as such desired. Its an often forgotten fact of mobile marketing, that what put these little devices firmly in our hands as the must have device in the first place, was its very scarcity, exclusivity and desirability... if I have to hear, read or see another dreadful mobile marketing plan that plans to "distribute", "free", or "unlimited" ... Mobile is not unlimited; it is scarce, a valuable, limited resource; and products, services and people that use this angle to market mobile wisely have very successful products. Fact. Ingress will be one of them. Oh and by the way, did I say I have an ingress account :)

So what is ingress like as a game?

Again, its a game changer (seriously, this pun was not intended either...) for a few reasons:

Ingress is a properly social game

On my first outing with my college Keith to show me the ropes (trust me, you need help getting your head round the game) I was in the centre of Reading (yes, I know) and we were approached by some members of the opposite faction who came up and started talking in a very friendly manner. I was quite literally astounded, however this may change.... At this point I should point out that there are (to date) two factions: enlightened and resistance. I remember I am the blue one, as that's what the person who gave me an invite told me to do, and  luckily for me I would have done anyway (see the descriptions on wikipedia) if I had to make a choice based on the very serious descriptions of the two factions.
There are two factions, to date; all very sociable
At this point I should also point out that Reading is actually quite civilised (by day at least) and in a chavvier part of the country recently; I resisted taking over someone's portal, well, you know, just in case: don't blame me if you find the game not to be as social as I did, and bear in mind that this could change very quickly when Ingress goes out of closed beta. The principal however is the same; apply the theory with a different skin to a sociable group and you will have a highly social game.  The real social nature however is that it gets people to work together, introduces you to names locally that maybe on other social networks (instagam, twitter??) although I have not personally used my ingress pseudonym elsewhere... 

Ingress is a healthy game

...Ingress seems to get people out an about together, which is a good thing for people, and is a good thing for gaming: while the nintendo wii and its clones may have got us off the lazyboy and waving our arms a bit; in general games have just added to most developed nations' obesity problem - not ingress. People extend their walk from the tube, go out for a walk in evenings and lunch, and even organise trips to claim portals. even in the coldest winter we have had in the UK in 20 years... a look at ingress.com/intell will show you how far you can go even in a town centre.
Nothing can get a geek round a park as well as ingress...
Even as a triathlete (we are nuts and need no excuse to go for a run instead of going for a beer...) Ingress got me doing an extra run to get to level 3. This is an amazing achievement for a game, for a tech company, for a mobile OS provider, and its all still in closed beta!

Ingress strategy game

I never got strategy games. I love pixel art, and so wanted to like what we know today as a strategy game on a visual level. I love great strategic moves and use of guile in the face of adversity, like the scuppering of the armada... so I should like strategy games; but I do not. I work every day on corporate strategy in technology marketing, product design and contract negotiations and so should love strategy games... but I actually cannot stand them. That is because, compared to ingress, what we know today as strategy games are just glorified Sodutu or whatever those overcomplicated crosswords are called... 
Ingress is the first strategy game that appeals to me as someone who is paid to put strategies together...
Ingress has me planning when and where to attack, military style, but with a positive outcome, no camo or ammo or over zealous testosterone alpha males needed... you also need help, and dare I say it, teamwork (sorry) would achieve better results, which is nice...

Ingress will destroy your life and eat hours

As all good games should... you start changing your route to work, your meetings, and I even found myself stopping the car to do a hack... the questions of "what are you doing" are as inevitable as the answer "you don't want to know". This gets more questioning... and then you tell them, and you get the added pleasure of being right - yep; they didn't want to know! Told you... Thankfully I have triathlon training to occupy the obsessive part of my personality... my colleague Keith... he's not so lucky and is a self confessed Ingress junkie...

Ingress is not all that it should be yet

Ok, so if you do not have an ingress account and are left wanting, here are a few things it is not:
  1. accurate: the GPS is all over the place and will drive you up the wall
  2. data connectivity is needed, otherwise the app looses the plot entirely and spins the globe eternally of you are lucky, does not get past the welcome screen if not
  3. every so often you forget to mute and people think you are a trekkie, or worse, if that is possible?
  4. the UI is woeful, even by Google standards
... so its just as well Google have hired a chief game whip then isn't it...