ingressWe read about a guy who lost 140 pounds playing “Ingress,” a free Android/iPhone game that gets you moving about in the real world (whatever that is). You the player can choose to be on the side of the “Enlightened” or the “Resistance” as you search for power nodes that connect with another universe.

The story line goes like this: A mysterious energy has been discovered by a team of scientists. We must control it or it will control us. The “Enlightened” seek to embrace its power as a force for good. The “Resistance” struggle to defend humanity against what they see as an alien invasion. We think alien invasions require too much time and planning to ever succeed, so we signed up as “Enlightened.”

Your phone prompts you to walk around in search of “portals,” which include landmarks, monuments, public art and so on. You must be within 35 feet of a portal to do anything with it — such as tapping a link on your phone to claim it for your side.  So you end up walking a lot. Joy wandered around town on her first trip, but wasn’t near a portal until she was back in our own building, climbing 15 flights of stairs for more exercise.

Besides local play, there are Ingress events several times a year (see in cities around the world. These involve four to five hours of walking or biking. When last we checked, there were gatherings in Slovakia, Japan, Italy, Nepal, Australia, Finland, Poland, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Canada, Greece, Argentina and half a dozen U.S. states. An Ingress friend we met says, “It’s a fantastic way to get off the couch, have fun and meet people.” And no matter how long you play, there is nothing to purchase. It’s always free. The game was created by Google and has more than seven million players.

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