ENTERTAINMENT

Augmented Reality Games Get Users Going Physical

An online game craze has hit Australia and gamers are getting active.

25/06/2016 1:56 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:54 PM AEST
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Fans of the augmented reality game battled it out in Sydney.

The gap between gaming and the real world could soon be a thing of the past if software developers at Niantic are involved.

'Ingress' is an augmented-reality multiplayer online game that has been provoking gamers to leave their houses, get physical and explore new places to defeat their factional in-game opponents.

Scores of fans of the game were seen congregating outside of the Sydney Opera House on Saturday in a live event hosted by Niantic for users to network and explore new cities.

"It's been a very good reaction. We haven't had an event of this scale in Sydney before. The community in Australia has grown and people here play a lot more," Niantic product marketing lead Archit Bhargava told The Huffington Post Australia.

"We have somewhere between 800 and 1000 people from all over, not just Sydney. There's definitely a level of excitement for 'Ingress'."

There's a different level of escapism in Ingress.

Launched in 2012, the game has been downloaded more than 15 million times and focuses on physical movement to real-life locations of cultural or artistic importance in more than 200 countries around the world.

Bhargava believes the way game play works in 'Ingress' is changing the way users approach gaming and getting them more physical than before.

"People aren't just playing a game on their couch, people are running out the door and walking around and playing the game. There's a different level of escapism in Ingress," he said.

"Unlike a traditional game where you're controlling a character, in this game you yourself are the character."

'Ingress' users are expected to walk around their respective cities in order to hunt down any of the close to six million physical locations around the world that serve as 'portals' in-game and establish 'territories' as either blue 'Resistance' or green 'Enlightened' factions.

According to Bhargava, this new approach to gaming is creating a new category for the industry that people have become interested in due to the ability to create new social connections via the game.

"We tried to create a game where people want to go out with their friends and play together. When more people play, there's more fun and to do certain powerful things in the game, you need more people to do them," Bhargava said.

"The side effect of this game is that people will run into other people playing the game, which was an unintended consequence."

Bhargava said the Niantic brand, set to release another popular augmented-reality game in 'Pokémon Go' later this year, is attempting to grow real-life interaction games to cater for users of all different interests and backgrounds.

"Our goal is to create more and more experiences like 'Ingress'. Our next game is 'Pokémon Go' and beyond that we want people to go out and play, and experience those awesome side effects."

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