Tuesday 3 June 2014

Poor Design: Ingress PvP

Playing Ingress might augment your face.

I've been keeping an eye on Zubon's experiences with Ingress, an AR game (Augmented Reality) which sees player joining one of two factions and then taking objectives for their team by wandering about outside and fiddling with their smart phones to gain XP, territory and the like. On the surface it sounds like a cool, more involved version of geocaching. It is a fair bit more dangerous though because by default it is PvP and there are a number of people who take their "game" a bit seriously. Just google up ingress violence and you'll get the drift.

Why intentionally design a system that promotes unregulated competition? Because it's easier - the players will generate their own "content" and the game makers can just sit back and relax instead of having to think up of ways for them to work together, cooperatively. They could make it that players all around the globe were trying to stop an electronic virus, or Cthulhu or whatever AI system they could think of. Nope, instead they just chose players to stop other players. What could go wrong? Other than threats of (sometimes armed) violence, vandalism, and destruction of property?

Ingress is an interesting idea, but one not thought out well enough. Yes the designers cannot control what the players do, which is all the more reason why they should anticipate for the worst  - and they didn't. Given the opportunity, all humans are murderous scum - innocent looking babies and frail old ladies included. If you don't work from that baseline, then you aren't planning hard enough. As for playing Ingress? It's just not worth it. Go geocaching instead - at least there people aren't openly being ushered to competitively gun you down - in game or out.

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