A recent post by Rachel Metz of MIT Technology Review discusses a fascinating new Google app: Ingress. Ingress puts the player in an epic battle for a newly discovered resource, exotic matter, which is distributed throughout the world. Naturally, the nodes that spill this matter into the world, key tactical positions for either team in the game, are conveniently placed on landmarks and other useful locations. Thus, by playing the game, people flood Google with an endless wealth of location-based information. Genius.
By integrating game and application, Google successfully takes an excellent step into the realm of augmented reality. As I have mentioned previously (1, 2), this domain is ripe for exploration and Ingress is certainly at the forefront of this work.
What is central to this exploration is a fusion in the divide between domains we normally consider separate like game and application. This fusion is possible because the divide, though once very real, is becoming increasingly illusory. The human-machine distinction is becoming all but absurd. 'Real life' is so artificial that most people 'play' themselves while living in fictional realities that they find more meaningful. The result is a convergence of sorts towards something like a singularity: a world in which humanity 'plays' the game of life, the good and the bad, purely for the sake of enjoyment and the base needs of all are met merely as a byproduct of this game.