Google's Niantic Project Appears To Be More Game Than Viral Campaign

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Google's Niantic Project (which we first reported on here) is now starting to generate a little more attention. On Wednesday, we published "Google, This Is Getting Pretty Weird [The Niantic Project]" looking at some of the latest pieces of the mystery. The article is generating some discussion in the comments section, as well as on reddit.

For more background read the stories linked above.

Some believe it to be a viral campaign (possibly for Google's Field Trip app or something related), and others say it is an ARG (alternate reality game). While it could be both, it is definitely a game

If it is simply a viral campaign for Field Trip, it seems like odd timing since the app was launched in September, though the Niantic Project was clearly conceived before that, as the video upload dates indicate (as well as the Twitter account, which was started in July), but videos were not released that early. It also seems odd that if this were a viral campaign for Field Trip, there would be more of a related theme, as opposed to this paranoia concept that accompanies the Niantic Project. Also, why would Google use the "Niantic" brand and not the "Field Trip" brand?

Reddit user rahmad says it's a game, and points to a related wiki:

It's an ARG, not sure viral campaign is the right connection, since at this point there is no 'thing', just the ARG. it could basically 'be' the product, in that it's an alternate reality game. There are forum posts at unforum (arg community) and facepunch (general community) trying to solve some of the puzzles integrated in it. Players have a wiki up at where most of the solves are being documented, and there's also a link there to an IRC channel if you want to join us. There's about 12-15 odd folks hanging in IRC all day tracking new content and piecing together the story.The storyline is 6 (maybe 7) days in at this point, so while we know a lot, my guess is there's a shit-ton still unrevealed...

Here's what you get at that link under "What is the Niantic Project?":

At Comic-Con 2012, several videos were released involving a long haired comic book artist named Tycho. Although there was no record of the individual anywhere else, everyone seemed to know him. People came to Comic-Con to find Tycho. Big names in the business praised his amazing skill and describe him as someone who, “Whenever a franchise is lagging, they bring him in behind the scenes… And the franchise starts selling again.” Past employers seem to include Marvel, Batman Beyond, and more. These videos went widely unnoticed.

Flash forward to November of this year, new YouTube videos go out. These are a trailhead to a larger investigation. The Niantic Project, Shapers, the NIA, XM Fields, what does it all mean? This is the chronicle of our investigation. We'd like for you to help.

Out of Universe - The organization behind the leaks is NianticLabs, a division of Google whose only other reported project to date is their Field Trip app. This arg seems completely unrelated to Field Trip, and its size and complexity leads us to speculate that it is for a completely new product, which may or may not share the emphasis on geolocation.

There's a place to chat about it here.

The wiki even has a whole cast of characters page, including this Tycho and Ben Jackland (the guy with the "malfunctioning phone" from the videos). It also has various resources for players, including images, videos, audio, chatlogs, documents, apps, words of the day, thoughts of the day, and websites of note.

Have fun.

More discussion on reddit.

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

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