Cons: it can be noisy, and causes occasional cries of outrage.
Pros: it’s super simple – a global travelling adventure from the comfort of your own home (or office).
Born from yet another session of me scolding my kids for being addicted to their screens, they outwitted me by devising a game of which I would approve.
Two or more people crowd around a screen displaying Google Maps.
One is selected to exit the room (the “guesser”).
The others (one is the “chooser”) choose a location anywhere in the world with street view. They drop a pin and the magic unfolds as they are zoomed off to a distant place where (for example) they meet a couple of men driving a horse cart on a hot summer’s day.
The guesser is invited back into the room to fathom where on earth we’ve landed. Depending on the mood of the others, clues might be offered. And the guesser might be allowed to wander around as he or she pleases.
Tears ensue if the chosen spot is too tricky. Quarrels commence if cheating is suspected – like when the guesser takes a sneaky trip to our world map wallpaper to follow up on a hint. Apparent genius is gasped at when the chooser forgets to cover up the place name displayed at the top left-hand corner of the screen (as below), and the guesser wins with an air of world-weary nonchalance.
My children’s travelbug diversion is a crude take on more sophisticated games online, and is clearly flawed. Personalities play a part instead of clever computer algorithms that determine destinations – my youngest son has a habit of transporting the guesser either to Madagascar or Portugal, but grows irritated when his guesser always gets it right.
Last night, my eldest child opened my eyes to the wonders of the GeoGuessr game. A hefty cut above my kids’ own travel pursuit (with the additional benefit of not having to engage other people to play alongside you), it runs along the same lines. A player is asked to guess the location of 5 semi-random sites. Points are awarded by the distance between the guessed and the actual spot. You can also choose to play with a time limit and/or in various categories.
Right now I’m trying to work out where this long road might lead me …
Wrong – I am well off course.
Both the refined GeoGuessr (and similar games) and my kids’ rough and ready challenge have the same problem – once you start, you cannot stop (meaning that I’ve been roundly defeated in my attempt to lessen screen time – including my own).
On balance, I prefer my kids’ game, despite its inadequacies. There is, at least, some social interaction, plus an element of physical exertion (whether it’s by fighting or running to a map to cheat). It may not be so randomised, but this is where we were yesterday …
And here …
Then we went here …
I told you it was addictive …