CNET Crave

CNET Australia Podcast

Thanks for the memories  July 26, 2012

When AR gaming makes you look like a criminal

About The Author

CNET Editor

Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

(Credit: Niantic Labs)

Anecdotes of police run-ins are starting to emerge from players of Google's experimental augmented-reality (AR) game Ingress.

Ingress, from Google's Niantic Labs, is currently in closed beta (it's excellent, and you should sign up for it). It's an AR game for Android phones that sees two factions warring to take control of landmarks, or "portals", in the real world.

As you move about your area, you will come across portals that you can perform a variety of tasks around; it can take time (although we were able to perform them while moving). All portals are in public places, however, they're not placed by users. Users can submit landmarks for the Niantic Labs team to add to the map.

But if you linger too long in sensitive places, you might run afoul of the law. According to a post on Reddit, a player was trying to capture a portal at a police station (at 1am, which may not have been the smartest move) when his phone locked up. Redditor Eheaubaut said:

I restarted it, and loaded the game back up when a cop noticed me, shouted to me and [detained] me. Apparently, sitting near a police station for about 5 minutes with a GPS view of the surrounding area with little blue blips on the screen is a red flag. I was in a holding cell for nearly 3 hours explaining to them it's just a game by Google. Strangest night ever.

And then other players started coming forward with their stories.

Mooksas was questioned by the police in the parking lot of a post office late at night. TerryTibbsEsq was pulled over after hacking portals in front of a "high drug traffic area". Munsterrr and Ghostin0hs both felt that the police were looking at them with suspicion as they hacked portals.

While, as tech website ReadWrite pointed out, having a run-in with the fuzz may add a cachet of "cool" to the game, we don't think Ingress necessarily needs the kind of "cool" that could get you in legal trouble. At least all the stories seem to have occurred in the US; although, to be fair, we don't think the game has as many Australian players yet. On the other hand, how do we know the stories are even true?

Eheaubaut's story ended anticlimactically; he managed to convince the police that he was just playing a game by showing them the Ingress website.

They started laughing after I showed it to them. One of the officers said that he couldn't believe we have the technology to make a game like this. Which I kind of laughed at, since we've had the technology for awhile, just no one wanted to do it! In all, they were pretty chill about it, even joked about it with me.

If you are playing Ingress, Google has put a handy support page online to help you. Good luck out there, soldier.


Add Your Comment 9

Post comment as

RhiaK posted a comment   

I think the daily chipping at the one abandoned portal in my area to convert it to my team attracted police attention for a bit, I finally captured it late on a Saturday night with a friend I was showing the game to (trying to blatently recruit him for my side heheh), and noticed when i went back to "Hack" (harvest it for items) it, the police searching the bushes near the portal spot. I went up to the portal, and said something to my friend about having to report to Google, the game was giving out too high levels for this level. And oh well, thats what we are beta testing it for, right?Seemed to allay suspicion but I do have the Support page on my phone so I can show them, if it does become a problem.


RhiaK posted a reply   

That's supposed to read "the portal is giving out too high level items for my level" eek.


Im Batman posted a comment   

Very reminiscent of stories from GeoTaggers, trying to find random geo's in areas that have them private property.

might have to register..


Michelle Starr posted a reply   

Jooiiiiiiin ussssssss ....


Im Batman posted a reply   

How could i resist such an offer!!! ; )


PhiloR posted a comment   

Why do all these 'fun' sounding games have to be about violence and war and killing? Where are the 'discovery' games of old? Imagine a game like ingress that was more like 'Mist'! That would be awesome and would attract a lot of players like me who want games of co-operation and trade, not violence and coercion.


Michelle Starr posted a reply   

I used "warring" in a colloquial sense, to mean the portals are contested territory. No one is getting hurt and certainly not getting killed. It's all map-based; and the gameplay is kind of like capture the flag. Well, a lot like capture the flag.

There are two teams, and you choose a side when you sign up; you cooperate with your own team against the other team to claim portals. I'm sorry if my wording confused you :)


joytech22 posted a comment   

My story is that most of the particle things you need to collect all seem to be on land where large buildings reside.

If I want to continue playing, I'll have to literally walk into the door of those buildings and walk around lol.


Michelle Starr posted a reply   

Really? Wow, what a pain! I see them most places just hanging around. Where are you playing? In a city?

Sponsored Links

Recently Viewed Products