Ant Pruitt Invitation to Ingress: How to Play Ingress [review]

Written by Ant Pruitt

How to play Ingress — it’s the question everyone is asking these days? Here’s how to play Ingress, some definitions of portals, resonators and other new terminology — and the logic behind this real world discovery game. This from our columnist Ant Pruitt, who’s been playing the beta version in the wild now. It’s from Niantic Labs, maker of Field Trip. See the connection? Ingress 101.

aNewDomain.netIngress is a new game involving social discovery that’s been out in the wild for a few months.

Ingress is still in invitation — only beta status and there’s a lot of mystique around it as a result. People are curious. They want to try it. The players who have been invited seem pretty psyched to get in and hack away at it. But Ingress is complicated with new terminology and game play theory. Plus it requires that you leave the house. What’s this all about? Here’s a little deep dive on how to play Ingress. Scroll down for useful links — you’ll need them to master this baby.

I was excited when I received my invitation to Ingress. When a person joins, they first have to decide on their team — their faction — and join one. Some folks join Team Enlightenment, others the mighty Team Resistance. I went the latter route. The goal for the team was to venture out into local areas and search for “portals” that have been plotted by the Ingress development team, Niantic Labs.

Using Android mobile devices, team members have to hack and claim these so-called portals. What’s a portal? Check out an image of a portal as shown on my Nexus 7 tablet, below. I use my tablet tethered to my Android smartphone because the larger screen is much nicer to look at when checking the map. But there’s more to it than that.


You see, once you hack a portal, you must strengthen it with so-called “resonators” and “shields.” You get more of these the more you have surrounding portals. And the game encourages you to link portals to one another. Confused? You’re not alone. The point is to create a network for your faction, but the whole thing is elaborate and it does take some getting used to.

Ingress confused me at first with all of the strange terminology. Portals, resonators, shields and keys are just four new terms you need to get acquainted with to play Ingress. Fortunately there are forums available online to help with these terms and game play. Once you have an understanding, then it’s possible to know what you’re doing as you venture out and start hacking portals.

But where are the portals? The challenge of answering that question is a problem Ingress players have to solve across the board. You can drive around town and surrounding areas for miles and miles without finding a portal. The Ingress development team has been helpful in noting that portals are found in areas that are considered local landmarks — and post offices and fire departments are common places for portals. Players can submit portal suggestions to Ingress via their smartphone cameras.

I live close to a metropolitan area, so there are bound to be portals nearby, right? Not really. I originally had difficulty finding portals that were closer than 20 miles away. This was discouraging. I wanted to play Ingress, but not that bad. Fortunately over the last three months more portals were placed and finally conquered by Ingress players. I now have four portals within 5 miles of my home!  Also, a helpful tool to find historical landmarks and hot spots in your area is the companion app Field Trip from Niantic Labs. Maybe the point is to get more Field Trips out there.

It’s too soon to call as to whether Ingress will gain critical mass. It has achieved critical confusion, that’s for sure. My social media stream has been riddled with players wishing they could play but are unable to find nearby portals. Is this the intention?

Then again, maybe Ingress is just trying to get geeks out of their houses? I joked about this on a recent episode of Yet Another Tech Show — but I was only half-joking. Get out of the house, geeks. Live a little. It’s a message, anyway. Will anyone do it in great number? We’ll see.

Have you gotten an Ingress invitation yet?  Does it even interest you?  Leave me a comment below with your thoughts and your faction if you’re in the game.  By the way, on Ingress I’m Physique on Team Resistance … and for, I’m Ant Pruitt.

Ingress 101 Links:

  1. How to get invited:
    • Sign up at the Ingress page.
    • Beg for invites at the Invites Channel on IRC.
    • Follow Ingress devs on Google+
  2. For beginners: Check out the Ingress help page before you get confused. You’ll need it for the terminology challenges. Or, here’s a helpful Information Board.
  3.  We live the IRC discussion Channel
  4. Intel Map has some basics.
  5. And finally, don’t forget to check out FAQ. Provided to Reddit by /u/derangedlunatech.


  • Good read! i thought we could drop portals, but i guess that was just in the training portion of the game.
    edit: Viva la Resistance!!! (elote)

  • I’m curious, but the real question is what is beyond the game itself. A lot of POI information is being collected, but to what end?

    I signed up on the website and await my invite when and if it comes.

    • I’m getting more activity in my area now, pavlovic. Thanks for reading and your comment!

      -RAP, II

  • Team enlightenment here. Rabid smurfs are out to sabotage humanity! They are rabid Luddites crazed fanatics bent on keeping the freedom from wage slavery via XM away from the masses for some unknown reason .

  • I just started playing today (Enlighten yourself!) and already am in a group going to take over a neighborhood. So there will definitely be an interesting social aspect to the game. Also went out biking – over 10 miles! – just to learn how to play. So I do think there’s some interesting success as far as those two metrics go. For the sneaker conspiracy theory-esque stuff, like “What is Google collecting???” … well, apparently all ZipCar and Jamba Juice locations are now portals, so “advertising” seems to be the answer, as with most things the company has done is recent years.

  • I love it, the hubby finally talked me into trying it after me jokingly calling him sad, geeky and a few other names. Anyways i am now totally adficted and living in Liverpool there is an abundance of portals. My chosen faction is the Enlightened. Ev everyone should give it a go

  • Good morning! Enlightenment here – I didn’t need an invite, and I’m hacking away. Maybe buyers of new droids are invited by default?
    I really enjoy it, and since I travel often, I expect to hack all over the place (that sounds a bit gross…)
    Thanks for the blog.

    • Ha! Good call, AngryHistorian! (lol)

      Hack on!

      Thanks for reading and your comment

      -RAP, II

    • Yes, Ingress comes pre installed on all the new motorola droids. Not the Moto X though. If anyone needs an invite, I have a few to spare. Hack on hackers!

  • Just downloaded last night and started driving around. There are a lot of portals in my area I guess it is “Hacker Time” :) karma24 if anyone from resistance is in my area of Milton Fl.

    • Welcome! Such an addictive game to play. More and more portals have sprung up over the year. Thanks for reading and your comment, Karma24.

      -RAP, II

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