Between Real Reality and Virtual Reality: the Third Option
Ingress: just a Game?
We have to keep in mind the hybrid nature of Ingress if we want to understand how people build their Virtual Identities inside the game and how these Identities interact and affect the Real Identity.
Ingress has many features common to many social games and augmented reality games:
- multiplayer game
- augmented reality game
- locative game
- role playing game
- social game
So this is the pattern:
a player plans his strategy on a computer, then moves to the war zone to interact with the environment enriched by fantasy elements, and he needs to collaborate with other players in order to succeed and gain levels and powers.
We can say Ingress players move in a Mixed Reality: a virtuality continuum made of different levels of blended or mixed reality between the real environment of the physical and the virtual environments generated entirely by computers.
They move into what we can call Hybrid Ecologies: though the players interact with other real players, these interactions are mediated by the technology.
So how can we determine what’s real and what’s fantasy?
How do Ingress players feel these interactions and how do they experience them?
It’s all about perception
Humans are programmed to detect and decode other human beings behaviours.
Furthermore, our mind uses some clues in order to discern reality from fantasy: to put simple, the more the senses involved, and the more the realism of other players behaviour, the more we perceive the scene as real.
This is true with games where players and AIs are mixed, so it’s more powerful when players interact with real players.
The embodiment strengthens this feeling
Maybe we will be pure spirits one day: until then our bodies play a main role in our lives.
Even when we stay in front of a computer, we stay connected with our body and its signals: in fact we watch the screen by our eyes (and feel them tired after some hours), type by our fingers (while we hear the sound of our typing and touch the keyboard), command by our voice (while we hear the voice itself), and feel exhausted after a long day spent in front of a PC.
We use our body to be present in a scene too.
By moving and getting around we create new paths, we explore new territories and settle down.
We use this presence to prevent someone else from stealing our flag.
In Ingress these movements are guided by a smartphone GPS.
So while the GPS interact with us, we interact with the GPS.
We dialogue with our technology in a double way feedback.
All of this often happens in an already known environment: by Ingress (as well as other locative and augmented reality games) we create new meanings to the World.
Is this the Third Option between Real Reality and Virtual Reality?
While I go further with my study I want to know your opinion:
Have we already entered a Cyber Reality where Human Beings and Machines blend together as a whole?
Do you think Ingress is a good start?