A Modern “Where’s Waldo” on a Google Map



Were you one of those kids that could sit in a corner with a giant “Where’s Waldo” book and pour over it for hours? Eventually you realized that Waldo was likely to appear in different areas on each page, and was always smiling (usually walking), and always wore that goofy outfit. And eventually the Waldo creators attempted to make the act of finding Waldo increasingly difficult by surrounding him with similarly clad geeks, and other tactics.

Nevertheless, the novelty wore off, and our kids are left with increasingly difficult video games that require years of logic and acts of deduction in order to achieve a winning status. But if you don’t mind still staring at a digital screen instead of paper, there’s a new geography game that’s a bit reminiscent of the Waldo books of yore. The new game is called placeSpotting, and it’s a Google Maps mashup.


Each game is actually a riddle. You’re given an image to start out with, and then you have to find it on the map. placeSpotting will give you two hints to help you find the place, so if you’re given the famed Sydney opera house in Australia, your clues will be “opera house” and “fifth continent.” To play, all you do is zoom in on the Google map, and find the given landmark. Once you match the coordinates exactly, submit your answer and see if you win (no prizes here, sorry).

If the game sounds daunting, that’s because it is. Even too daunting for me, who used to be an avid fan of Waldo. But I think some additional interactive options such as presenting hints over a period of time instead of in an upfront manner, or even timing the game, could make it more challenging in a constructive way. I imagine some geography teachers out there will also find a way to integrate this game into their curriculum, as riddles can be created by users as well.


A Modern “Where’s Waldo” on a Google Map
Kristen Nicole
Fri, 29 Feb 2008 18:50:55 GMT