"You're meeting strangers and you're sharing a bond when we're playing," Boyle said. "It grows and you start hanging out even when you aren't playing."
The launch video for the game nearly six months ago showed two people eyeing each other warily at a portal, wondering which side the other was on. Hanke said he expected some of that to happen, but what he didn't expect was for those people to actually start talking to each other.
Said Hanke: "On social media, and even in the real world, people started doing that and walking up to other people and saying, 'You're playing 'Ingress,' aren't you?' "
"Then these local clubs began to form and they started sending us pictures of their meet-ups. We started planning these events around that organic phenomenon."
One player described hanging out with other players from both sides as "friend-ponents, not frienemies."
"There is a rivalry, but there is also a camaraderie," said Filemon Palero. "There is a feeling of being together when you are doing something as a team. I found I was going to see exhibits around D.C. just because of 'Ingress.' "
The Android-only game is still in closed beta and by invitation only, but Hanke said his team is handing out invitations as quickly as they get requests. He thinks the game will be ready soon to be opened to players everywhere and hopes the hive mind, collective intelligence of the world will enjoy solving his puzzles.
"People were sending us videos of players trudging through the snow (in Russia) playing 'Ingress,' " he said. "That blew our minds people were doing that."