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Tuesday, July 14, 2020


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Ursula Curwen

Ursula Curwen
Into Ingress: A Walking Ethnography of Augmented Reality Games

Augmented reality games (ARG) involve players in a layer of imagination (world) superimposed on reality. They are games, played in an imaginary version of the real world, via mobile phone. ‘Ingress’ takes the form of a map showing the location of in-game objects (portals). Players may act alone as agents within the game or, more commonly, act in cooperation with others both virtually and in real life, real time, and real places. Ingress is played between two factions, the ‘Resistance’ (blue) and the ‘Enlightened’ (green), both of whom seek to (re)capture game objects and territory whilst preventing the opposing team from doing the same. This is done by moving around public spaces as players must be in close proximity to a portal in order to interact with it.

This project is influenced by anthropological accounts of digital gaming communities. It will undertake a ‘walking ethnography’ which involves the immersion of the researcher into the community (of interest) through regular meet ups and other engagement both in real life (IRL) and online. It builds on previous research but differs by also focussing on the digital communities that emerge from the way gaming activities invite players to interact with physical spaces and landmark locations. These communities can be seen to provide support and encouragement for individuals to socialise and exercise, providing a base for mental and physical wellbeing. Whilst ARGs involve interaction ‘in game’ they also involve interaction with people in real life (IRL), with players becoming involved in each other’s lives and stories

Can ‘Augmented Reality Games’ be a positive influence? The project will take the form of a series of walking interviews with players of the ARG Ingress to attempt to ascertain whether the game encourages healthy physical and social activity and, if so, whether this has wider implications for the use of ARGs in public spaces.


Research Degree: PhD, Part-time