GeoGuessr: A fun and easy way to break winter boredom

Some students may be familiar with this oddly-spelled and very fun Google Earth-based game.

The starting location for the round described in this article. Screenshot by Kyle Ivacic.

Students, especially those who like geography, looking for a reprieve from the Alaskan cold or endless studying might find just what they need in GeoGuessr.

The game uses Google Street View to drop players into a random area anywhere on Earth. Players must then guess their location – the closer the guess, the higher the points. Rounds can be set up in various ways: with or without time limits, moving turned on or off, and even with or without the ability to zoom in on details.

A beginner will likely enjoy the game’s easier settings, which turn off time limits and allow moving around the map. In fact, with limits turned off, players can move through Google Street View for as long as they want to get a feel for their location and make a better guess. Once ready to make their guess, the player simply presses a map icon which pulls up a world map on which they can pin their guessed location. The game will then show the true location and give the player points based on how close their guess was.

To make things even easier, players can select from maps that might be more familiar to them than the entire globe. For example, there are options such as “Famous Places” and “United States” among many others.

The points screen that appears after making a guess. Screenshot by Kyle Ivacic.

Let’s take a look below at a round I played to see how a typical session might go in the “Urban United States” map:

The game dropped me in what I recognized as a location in the Northeast or Midwestern United States – based on a dense street pattern and brick buildings. A building with a sign for “Hofbrauhaus Newport” displayed a hint to what town this was – possibly Newport, Rhode Island — but further investigation was required.

Wandering around the town revealed a sign for “Interstate 75.” Taking a look at the in-game map showed that this interstate runs through the Midwest, so it wasn’t in Rhode Island after all.

After some meandering around the map, I found my way onto the interstate where I was met with a sign directing drivers toward Cincinnati and a decently large skyline visible in the background. So, this “Newport” must be in Ohio and a suburb of Cincinnati.

Another look at the map showed this was correct. It was then time to try and guess the exact starting location to receive the most points possible. Pressing the game’s flag button brings the player back to  their starting location – a handy tool to remind you of where to base your guess.

In this case, pressing the flag returned me to the street in front of the brewhouse. Looking at street signs in the nearest intersections let me know that I was located on “Third Street.” Zooming into Newport on the map, I found Third Street and was able to locate the brewhouse. With the location found, I clicked the mouse to set my marker and pressed the “Guess” button.

This was a very successful round – I guessed only 18 yards from the exact start location and received a full score of 5,000 points.

Each round is played like this, although some are much harder than others. Enjoy this fun game at Hopefully, it will take you to locations much warmer than our Alaskan winter!