Here's a way to while away a bit of the last day of the first week back after the holidays: Geoguessr, which tests knowledge of the world visually. The game is so simple that it's nearly flawless: an integration with Google Maps challenges the user to make a guess as to where in the world a location is.
Forget about Carmen Sandiego, this is the sleuthing competition for the completely mapped tech reality.
Each game lasts 5 rounds, giving 5 separate opportunities to most closely guess where in the world this particular place is. After navigating around the map seeking clues - street signs, car types, business names, design styles, landscapes - a guess is made using the small world map in the upper right.
Points are awarded according to accuracy, so zooming into the map to specifically place a marker is encouraged - the closer the marker is to the actual spot, the more points are awarded. It really is a fun way to explore the world, especially if a particularly itchy case of wanderlust has suddenly bubbled up to the surface.
Beyond simply being an extremely entertaining way to spend 15 minutes, the simple application is also leveraging itself into an actual business. Companies like BBC Travel have integrated their own white-labeled versions of the service into their websites, allowing their readers to interact with the game right on site. It's a clever way to expand a fun deployment of Google Maps into a revenue-generating business.
The best feature is, of course, related to competing with friends.
After going 5 rounds, the app pops up with a share link - and a challenge link, so you can send it to friends to see how they stack up.
And, dear reader, if you'd like to see how you stack up against the author, here's the competition link. Click through and go five rounds. Geoguessr will show how well you did in each round comparatively, and then give you an overall score at the end of the round. Respond below with your score, and we'll see who's Top Sleuth.
Another way to challenge friends is via a time-limited challenge. The same 5 locations are explored, and there's a set time limit - the shortest time and highest score wins. Want to see how you stack up in the 'Tnooz 60-Second World Challenge'? Click here. You've got 60 seconds per round, and five rounds, to show off that geographical savvy.
May the best world sleuth win!