Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Geosense: Serious Games For Interactive Geography

Serious Games making geography really enjoyable


Geosense is essentially an interactive geography test created using DHTML and Ajax. First, choose which map you want to play: United States, Europe, World, and Advanced World. The game itself is all about location, location, location. It consists of 10 or 20 rounds, each of which involves clicking on the map where you think the given city is located. You receive points for speed and accuracy, although the latter is given more weight.


At this point, some of you must be thinking "Great. I thought I left this sort of thing behind in 9th grade. Booooring." And if that was really all it was, you'd be right. However, the essence of Geosense comes in the head-to-head mode. You can challenge anyone who is currently logged in to a head-to-head match. This means you can challenge your friend/sibling/roommate/kid/coworker to an all-out, cutthroat, epic battle of geographic wits.

Mark Rossen has made geography really enjoyable with this simple little game. Even if you are not a whiz with all the African nations and their capitals, it’s still fun to guess and see how close you were.

First-timers may want to play a game on their own to get a sense of the timing and scoring, but unless you’re a giant map geek, you’ll soon get tired of this and want to go for a more competitive challenge. However, if there’s no one suitable to challenge head-to-head, you can still try to get on the high-scores list; there are top scores for the week, the month, and for all-time.

Any map can also be played in Scramble mode, where the letters of the country (or state) and city are randomly revealed one by one. Scramble mode adds another dimension to head-to-head play as well; points will depend not only on geographical knowledge, but on being able to recognize the words when only a few letters have been revealed.

A word of warning: a few of the cities on the world map are pretty obscure. Many times, you can get a decent score just by knowing where the country is located, but when you are ask to locate Vlastinarskigamnoprovskiromsorgi, Russia... well, all I can say is good luck.

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