Jun. 20th, 2014

amanda_lodden: (four)
A million years ago, or perhaps more like 8 or 9 months (really, in app timeframes, is there a difference?), M and C talked me into installing Ingress.

If you're not familiar with it, Ingress is a location-aware game that centers around the idea of "portals" that aliens are using to infiltrate our world. Or something like that. Honestly, I haven't opened any of the backstory media files since I finished the tutorial. There are two teams, and you try to take portals from each other. Except when you're low level, you mostly just hack portals and hope you someday level. (It's a team-driven game, and I'm not a team-driven player. I understand that some folks actually get together with higher-level teammates and therefore progress a lot faster.)

Anyway, M and C (and later a different C) all swore by Ingress and how much more they walked and therefore felt better and lost weight and yadda yadda yadda. I was somewhat dubious, given that my back pain prevented me from walking a great deal, but I gave it a try.

I played it for a little bit, but early on there weren't a lot of portals nearby, and the ones that were nearby were all in the mall, where my old phone refused to acknowledge that GPS signals could possibly exist. Ingress became "that game that I drive places and sit in my car to play." Which is okay, I suppose, except that I didn't want to drive places and sit in my car. I tried submitting portals, with about a 1-in-3 success rate. None of the successful ones were particularly near me, and I didn't really understand why the rejected ones were getting rejected. So I let it fall by the wayside.

But about six weeks ago, M and C and I got to talking about Ingress again, and I had replaced my old phone with a newer model. On a lark I pulled up the intel map to see if it had gotten any better.

There have been a LOT of new portals added. Most notably, there was a cluster of portals a few miles away, near a medical complex. Which made no sense to me whatsoever, because Ingress is all about permanent art installations and historic places and government buildings and churches and bars (technically I think it's supposed to be "gathering places" rather than "bars" but ... that pretty much works out to bars.) It turns out that the medical complex has a "Garden of Healing and Renewal" which has a path with a bunch of fountains and art and stuff. And since it's intended for people convalescing, there are benches approximately every five feet. (I use a lot of hyperbole, so I'd like to clarify: that's not exaggerated. Until you get to the back wooded areas, it is not possible to walk more than five feet without encountering a place to sit. In the back areas, it's more like twenty feet.)

It's a gorgeous garden, and I probably never would have realized it was there if it hadn't had about a dozen Ingress portals in it. I've gone there and walked several times, now that I know about it. I've also explored nearby parks and downtown areas. I'm trying to make it a point to go out and walk every day, though because I am a get-the-achievements!-type gamer and there's an achievement for hacking a large number of different portals, I tend to try to go to new places as well as old ones.

I am not fast, and I am not miraculously healed. There's still a lot of sitting involved in my walking. But six weeks ago, I could walk (or even just stand up) for about 5 minutes before my back would hurt and I'd have to sit down. And today, I walked for 8 minutes before I needed to find a bench. It doesn't seem like a a huge improvement, but it's 30%... and more importantly, it's an improvement. [Edited: Oops, 5 minutes to 8 minutes would be a 60% increase, not a 30%. ("Math is haaaard.")]

The downside? I'm finding myself checking out the intel map for areas I plan to visit, and trying to figure out how early I'd have to leave to be able to hit portals near my destination. Or on the way. Or both. We'll know that I've gone completely off the deep end when I set an alarm to get up even earlier to hack more portals.

In the meantime, if you've got an Android phone and you're interested, I have 8 invites for recruiting. (An iPhone version is expected "soon" but I don't think it's out yet. Sorry, Apple users.)

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