Ugh. Google’s Niantic Project is an embarrassing ARG
The last time we heard about Google Niantic project, it was regarding their geofenced walking tour trivia app, Field Trip, a perfectly nice first experiment of integrating data with real-world locations.
Now videos are popping up that imply that Google is launching an ARG–Augmented Reality Game, where “Augmented Reality” is not a word for graphics in a display, but basically means “fiction” or “role-playing”–for Niantic. A video made by a young man who buys a mysterious phone online that operates without a SIM card and lights up with graphics when in proximity to a statue. And hey, there's a man in a black suit and sunglasses lurking in the background in a post that's meant to imply oversight from a mysterious shadow organization, but mostly just looks like a bored chauffeur.
In short, it's goofy as hell. Mysterious global conspiracies went out of fashion a decade ago; even if it were an original idea now, shouldn't a multinational corporation the size of Google be aware that many people already perceive them as a sort of corporatized Big Brother? Even the kids on Reddit trying to solve it are bored with it.
All signs point to it being a milquetoast marketing campaign for a new augmented reality app that will be revealed at some point in the near future. If that's what it takes to get people to pay attention to the software, maybe Google should be spending more time making the software stand on its own.