Where in the world am I? The addictive mapping game that is GeoGuessr

GeoGuessr may be the most addictive game on the web. Will Coldwell loses himself in it

I’m staring down a barren road in the middle of the desert. In the distance are some reddish mountains and a lone, rusty vehicle is driving away into the distance. I have no idea where I am, or how I got here. Still, if I had to guess, I’d say Utah. It’s not. I’m actually in the Congo and I just scored a measly 312 points.

This is GeoGuessr, an intriguing new online game that teleports you around the world using Google Street View. All you have to do is guess where you are. The closer you get, the more points you are awarded. It’s devilishly simple. Just weeks after launching, the geographical detective challenge has already been dubbed one of the most addictive map games of all time.

“I’ve always liked how Street View allows you to visit locations that you would never travel to in real life,” says Anton Wallen, the 29-year-old IT-consultant from Sweden who created it. “GeoGuessr started as a random location generator which randomly dropped the user on different locations. After a while I felt like it needed something more and decided to add the game element.”

The game itself can be very tricky. Playing it quickly reminds you that large swaths of the world are almost indistinguishable from each other. And clues that appear around you are not always as they seem. A Skol truck that led me to believe I was in Northern Europe was actually in Brazil. Apparently Skol is really popular in Brazil, so at least I learnt something. After two days of playing, my top score is 10,083.

But while my GeoGuessr ability is limited by the fact I have only visited two continents, how would an actual, real-life explorer fare? After five minutes’ practice Gaelin Rosenwaks, a member of the prestigious Explorers Club who has travelled to 25 countries in the last two years alone, has already ratcheted up a whopping 16,433 points. One of her guesses was 54km out. Another was dead on.

“I think the travelling certainly helped, as there are distinguishing things in different countries, like the street markings and the signs,” she says. “The power of observation is a very interesting thing with this game. From my personal experience people can learn a lot by observing so closely and what to look at to distinguish the places. You look for details in a place you might otherwise take for granted.”

So far Wallen has had an “almost entirely positive” reaction to the game: “There are lots of parents and teachers who play the game with their children or students as an educational tool. It is really inspiring and a bit mind blowing.” In the meantime, you may as well cancel that three-month trek in the Andes. GeoGuessr really is the only way to find yourself.  Try it yourself at GeoGuessr.com

How it works

1. GeoGuessr drops you at a random point in the globe. Well, one that’s been photographed by Google’s Street View Cars.

2. Guess where you are in the world on the zoomed-out map.

3. The closer you are to the exact location, the more points you get.

4. You get five attempts to get as high a score as possible.

5. Repeat for a week, or until you find yourself in a library looking up how to identify northern Scandinavian fauna.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Moodle Developer (PHP ,Linux, Apache, MySQL, Moodle)

    £35000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Moodle Developer (PHP ,Linux, Apache...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Junior .NET Web Developer - Winform / MVC

    £21000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Award-winning pharma softw...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Java Developer

    £30000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Java Developer is requ...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there