1169: Expedition

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I'm pretty sure I've logged more hours in Google Maps over the past decade than in any game.
Title text: I'm pretty sure I've logged more hours in Google Maps over the past decade than in any game.


Google Maps is a service provided by Google that offers a map of the world including satellite and aerial imagery for free. Using the scroll wheel, the user can zoom out to see a larger area. The Lena River is a river in northern Russia, flowing into the Arctic Ocean (with a large delta).

Clicking on the comic leads to an online Google Maps page showing the satellite imagery of the Lena Delta. Traveling south up the river will lead to the city of Yakutsk and eventually to Lake Baikal.

It appears that Cueball is simply trying to explore the world without zooming out the screen. He also seems to keep a log of what he sees onscreen.

Alternatively, he may be playing Mapcrunch, this 'game' randomizes a street view location with the goal of finding the airport.

The title text states that he apparently somewhat still treats it as a game and that he has been on it for at least a decade.

A game called GeoGuessr was released three months later, with the user being put into a random location in Google Street View and asked to guess where they are in the world by analyzing clues in their environment. This often necessitates the user making their way from the middle of the wilderness to some manner of civilization, exactly as in the comic.


[Cueball is at a computer.]
February 4th:
Departed the mouth of the Lena River, heading south.
It has been nearly half an hour and still no sign of civilization.
The scroll wheel tempts me, but I will not cheat.
Mouse: Click click click
[Caption below the panel:]
My hobby: Getting lost on Google Maps satellite

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He should have written: ... than in any other game. --Kronf (talk) 06:50, 4 February 2013 (UTC)

Not really. That would imply Google Maps is a game too. It's just a piece of software he uses as a game.
Erm ... that's the point. --Kronf (talk) 13:40, 4 February 2013 (UTC)

Someone should write a game for this. It would just use the google maps API. It starts by putting you at a random point and the zoom is disabled. Then you have to navigate to a city. 13:07, 4 February 2013 (UTC)

Great idea! I’d definitely play it. -- 15:50, 4 February 2013 (UTC)
There used to be a game (don't know if it is still played) called "Table Top Rallying". It involved a Rand McNally map of the USA (and it had the be the right Rand McNally map for the year). Participants would "drive" around the map, collecting clues and answering questions, and the like. 09:17, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
My kids and I invented a similar game using google maps. It was called "Would you live?" and involved getting a sum of pretend money with which to pretend buy things on ebay, after which you would be dropped at a random point on the map. We used random.org to get the random location. You got more money for the next round if you survived, and bonus points for how quickly you could identify where you were on the map, starting from the mostzoomed in point. My son, then ten years old, scored a major coup by finding a giant barge on ebay for $800. Saved him many of the times he was dumped in the north pacific. --Tamara G.

I just tried out what Cueball suggests, and the first city I found was Yakutsk. Knowing well that downstream from Yakutsk there are at least some settlements, I made a quick Google/Wikipedia search for those and found 1710:Yakutsk:. 1560 Aldan River from the east. River tends northwest. 1373:Sangar: coal mines. 1560:Vilyuy River from the west. River tends north. 959:Arctic Circle. 939:Zhigansk,founded in 1632, 865:Agraphena Island. 545:Sikhtyakh. 385:Kyushur:regional center. 222:Lena Delta (Wikipedia; numbers are kilometers from the mouth). Sangar’s here [1], Zhigansk’s a lot blurrier [2], Siktyakh (Wiki misspelled it and Google Maps shows it in the wrong point – it’s, of course, down by the river) is hardly to see [3], and if anyone can point me to the “regional center” Kyushur, I’d be infinitely thankful. (In fact, I could not find Kyushur in any source except this Wikipedia site and a translation of a part of a Lithuanian report about Gulag life. Cyrillic script gave no results at all.) -- 15:50, 4 February 2013 (UTC) Kyusyur's Wikipedia page is here: http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%9A%D1%8E%D1%81%D1%8E%D1%80 . 16:23, 4 February 2013 (UTC)

I knew it must have been a typo! In fact, the Google Maps image of Kyusyur is a lot less blurred out than Zhigansk and Siktyakh: [4] -- 10:39, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Google Maps is Click and Drag on steroids. Alpha (talk) 00:49, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Should the explanation say what the Google Maps is showing? That ruins the game he's given us! 06:15, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Umm… it just shows “the mouth of the Lena River” exactly as the comic says in the first sentence! --Mormegil (talk) 16:32, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

No way to really tell, but it reminded me of Elevator. 13:26, 8 February 2013 (UTC)

I use a similar "game" to challenge myself and improve my skills of orientation. I go to Google earth (or google maps with satelite images), disable all markers/labels, get zoomed out over Europe (where I live) and then try to zoom in to a particular place, without of moving the view. So first e.g. scrolling until I got Germany in focus, then until it is western Germany, then I got some landmarks (big cities, mountain ranges) pretty handy already and can get into more detail. I started with easy challenges (my current place of living in a larger town), continued with harder ones (my old home in small towns/villages), places of friends/relatives I visited a handfull times, places I have been on vacation... If it gets to hard, I either open the map view in another tab, or click a place to see the description (oh, if this is city A, I need to go much further down that river to find city B)... Usually after trying with these hints for a few times it gets easy to find the right landmarks on each zoom level, and get much better orientation around that area. --Lupo (talk) 14:23, 6 August 2019 (UTC)

Not directly related, but: isn't it interesting how the complexity of a game has little to no correlation with how much time the obsessives spend on it? Beanie (talk) 11:28, 21 May 2021 (UTC)

There's a game called GeoGuessr that drops you in a random Google Street View location and you have to figure out where you are from what you can see of your surroundings. -- The Cat Lady (talk) 23:33, 22 September 2021 (UTC)