GeoGuessr: The Game That Lets You Explore the World

A toy car placed on an atlas map.
Loretta Omoruanzoje

In today’s society, travelling is an extremely popular leisure activity. Although some of us may not be able to travel regularly, social media and map applications allow us to see the world without having to leave our bedrooms. Loretta Omoruanzoje explores how, by using Google Maps software, the geography game GeoGuessr allows players to explore the world whilst testing their deduction skills.

GeoGuessr has become increasingly popular in the last few years, with most players joining during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the game has been around since 2013, when it was published by Swedish software engineer Anton Wallen. Wallen took inspiration from Google Maps and had a particular fondness for “how Street View allows you to visit locations that you would never travel to in real life”. From this, the idea of GeoGuessr was developed.

Each round starts with a randomly generated street view map. Players have no more than 2 minutes to guess their location. The easier levels tend to contain famous landmarks as well as signs that have the names of nearby cities. In comparison, harder levels may require players to have a knowledge of regional architecture and plants. Once they have an idea of where they are, players must pinpoint their location on a map. The closer they are, the more points that they earn. 

Using street signs, plants or sand, Rainbolt is able to differentiate between different countries

Trevor Rainbolt, also known as the “GeoGuessr Guy”, is a 24-year-old social media strategist who went viral on TikTok for completing GeoGuessr rounds in a matter of seconds. Rainbolt currently has two million followers on TikTok and is one of the best GeoGuessr players in the world. In an interview with Insider, Rainbolt said that he first played the game casually as a teenager and only came to master it during the pandemic when he had more time to play.

So, what does it take to master GeoGuessr? In many of his videos, Rainbolt talks through his process. After playing for many years now, he has been able to notice some patterns. For Rainbolt, the smallest details are the biggest giveaways. Using street signs, plants or sand, Rainbolt is able to differentiate between different countries and even cities within the same region.

Since going viral, Rainbolt has moved away from simply playing the game to accepting challenges from his followers. Challenges include finding where people’s family vacation photos were taken and even the location of famous memes.

Rainbolt both amazes and frightens his followers

In a TikTok video with over seven million views, Rainbolt takes on the challenge of finding the filming location of the music video for Lykke Li’s song, I Follow Rivers. Within the first ten seconds, Rainbolt whittles down the location to either France, Portugal or Spain. He then confirms that it is France just from the style of the nearby architecture and a licence plate belonging to a car in the background of the video.

From there, it gets easy – the licence plate is registered to the region of Pas-de-Calais. By searching for tall buildings in Pas-de-Calais, Rainbolt was able to find the exact street in a town called Liévin. In the space of a minute, Rainbolt both amazes and frightens his followers by proving that he is one of the best GeoGuessr players in the world.

GeoGuessr can be played either alone or with friends in multiplayer mode. For less than £24 a year, GeoGuessr Pro gives players unlimited access. While it only permits five minutes of game-play every 15 minutes, a free membership is also available – so why not give it a go? Who knows, you may be the next Trevor Rainbolt!

Loretta Omoruanzoje

Featured image courtesy of NisonCo PR and SEO via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

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