THERE was a sense of pride as we saw it for the first time. The smooth black exterior, decorated with official signs and emblems, commanded attention and yet revealed nothing of its seemingly sinister purpose. Only those who play the game know what this all-black vehicle was all about, and those who know understand the significance of its presence on Philippine soil.
Although quite renowned abroad, very few Filipino players have actually seen it in person, but that was all about to change. For it was here at last. For the first time since Ingress started, the NL-1331 vehicle had finally reached Asia—and it landed in the Philippines.
Within the realms of the universe of Ingress, the location-based, augmented-reality mobile game developed by Niantic, NL-1331 refers to the event, which was essentially an exploration of cities or locales using a customized vehicle called the XM Detection Mobile Lab. During the event, players won real-time and in-real-life rewards, such as biocards and other Ingress items. Players also met Ingress characters in the flesh, as well as mingle and compete with their coplayers, coming from both the same and the opposing factions.
The very first NL-1331 was held on July 7, 2014, in State College, Pennsylvania, and other NL-1331 events followed thereafter, all held in the US. The success of these events paved the way to expand the brand to other continents.
On July 16, 2016, NL-1331 was transformed into an upsized vehicle and was branded the NL-PRIME in Japan. It was near the conclusion of the Aegis Nova XM Anomaly in Tokyo, Japan, when NL-PRIME was introduced to more than 13,000 players, and it became an instant hit to Ingress agents and opened yet another opportunity to bring the vehicle closer to more communities around the world.
In the third quarter of 2016, Niantic expanded its reach and brought NL-1331 to Europe, and NL-1331E was born on August 1, 2016, using an “Enhanced” vehicle, a customized multipurpose van.
Then in the last quarter of 2016, Enlightened Pilipinas, an Enlightened community in the Philippines, decided to put together the proposal that would eventually get reviewed and approved by Niantic executives—the proposal that would bring NL-1331 to the Philippines. Thus, NL-1331 Pilipinas was born. Since NL-PRIME was used to promote the NL-1331 event in Japan, NL-1331 Pilipinas (later on NL-1331 Philippines) technically became Asia’s first-ever NL-1331 Live Event.
NL-1331’s journey to Asia was unexpectedly short and relatively smooth. It took only four months of preparation, starting with a series of meetings within and outside the core team that was created to manage the event, with members coming from different Ingress communities in the Philippines. Although planning took a backseat in December due to the holidays, by January the committee was again at work on it, and by the third week most of the details had been ironed out and finalized. We were then all set for Asia’s first ever NL-1331 event.
Ethan Lepouttre flew to the country to headline NL-1331 Philippines. He is the marketing event coordinator at Niantic Inc., and he was also the officially designated handler of the NL-1331 vehicle.
NL-1331 Philippines kicked off with a set of clues and the locations of items posted on the NL-1331 Google Plus page. These scavenger hunts, dead drops and #FindTheKlue were all part of the side programs prior to the main event.
The NL-1331 Philippines XM Detection Mobile Lab van was scheduled to appear at a given location within the given time frame and would move on to another location once the drops had been made. Of course the locations selected were scenic and/or historical sites to add more fun to the adventure.
At each pit stop NL-1331 Philippines was met by enthusiastic Ingress players, who all participated in and enjoyed a simple game of treasure hunting, looking for rare Ingress cards hidden by Niantic Inc. Marketing Event Coordinator Ethan within the vicinity of the pit stops.
There were also a lot of group photos taken, with Ethan and Niantic Inc. Business Development and Asia Pacific Community Manager HaeRang Dang of course, and with the NL-1331 vehicle.
The entire series of events was attended by more than 400 local and foreign agents from Australia, Bahrain, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Taiwan, the US, South Korea and Japan.
It is also worthwhile to note that NL-1331 Philippines was the longest NL-1331 event ever, lasting for five days, usually done in a single day per country or city.
The staging of NL-1331 Philippines proved that even a small group of individuals can make a big difference. With the right mind-set, ample support and in collaboration with other groups and organizations equally invested in ensuring the success of the endeavor, a vision can become the reality. The success of NL-1331 not only put the Philippines on the Ingress map for future live events, but it also paved the way for another NL-1331 event that was held in Malaysia in May.
For more information on NL-1331 Philippines and other Ingress Live Events, visit www.ingress.com/events, www.nl1331.ph or www.enlightened.ph. NL-1331 Philippines was presented by BusinessMirror in partnership with the Tourism Promotions Board, the Department of Tourism, United Laboratories Inc., Laruan Café Atbp., Bonifacio Global City, Bonifacio High Street and the BGC Citizen.