Using the street view of Google Maps is a handy way to explore an area but the website GeoGuessr has turned it into a game. Each round sees you placed in an unknown position on the map, leaving you to determine your location by looking for clues along the road. The faster you guess, and the closer your guess is to the given location, the higher your score.
GeoGuessr was created back in 2013 by Anton Wallen, a Swedish IT as a hobby project but today attracts thousands of players. The website lets you choose from a wide range of maps, including country maps, world maps, famous places and many user-generated maps. You can be dropped into built-up urban locations or remote country roads, with little signs of life.
There are daily challenges, a country streak and a battle royale, where you can play against friends or random strangers. You build points as you tackle more maps and earn medals. There are even pro leagues and serious players stream their games on Twitch and YouTube to thousands of followers.
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A typical game consists of five rounds, with a maximum of 5,000 points per round for a perfect guess (within 75 feet of the location), giving a potential 25,000 per game. Top players perform speed runs of the locations, achieving perfect guesses in under 5mins ago. A Wired article on GeoGuessr speedrunners, described how a user named Chicago Geographer set a new world record of a perfect USA speedrun in 4 minutes 13.8 seconds.
In addition to signposts and road names, pro players look for subtle clues to help find the locations. These can include the quality of the Street View camera (one of four generations), the design of the Street View car (and it’s shadow), to the side of the road cars are driving on.
You can play one game a day for free but the GeoGuessr Pro Membership, which gives you unlimited plays as well as access to leagues, battle royale games and to build your own maps, costs from $1.99 per month. We've been playing all weekend and will never look at a Google Map the same way again.