Social gaming introduces a number of amusing and intriguing factors into one’s daily diversions. Every week, the new Bejeweled Blitz tournament pits me against my friends, and I struggle to beat Kate’s must-be-cheating scores. Conversely, there are games which pit me against users I don’t know, engaging in petty rivalries with other Mobsters. Add a GPS-enabled device into the mix, however, and suddenly the dynamic changes even further: Depending on the places life may take me, I can play against a wholly new community of players on any given day.
Enter Traveler’s Quest, a location-based iPhone game from Kitty Code. A virtual geocaching app, TQ removes the physical treasures from the activity, but adds a number of online elements and gameplay features, all of which reward the game’s titular pursuit: Traveling. Users are able to locate virtual hidden treasure based on their real-world location, and receive hefty in-game bonuses for recovering them based on their proximity. You can grab a treasure if you’re within 1.5 miles of its hiding place, but you’ll score much higher for standing right on the big red “X.”
The game really becomes interesting when you bring it to a new location and start hunting; every treasure is marked with the name of the user who hid it. Having spent the weekend in Santa Monica, I’ve spotted a vast hoard with new names attached to them, giving me a sense of whose turf I’m on. One also gets a sense of who is content to hide treasure near homes and businesses, and who likes to get creative. Witness this crafty hiding spot I found deep within a plant nursery, behind an array of vines and flowers:
Best of all, once a treasure is in your grasp, it increases in value when it is taken far away from its point of origin. With a valuable collection of Santa Monican trinkets stored safely on my iPhone, I will take them home to Northern California, and be able to cash in by providing new hunts for my local player community. The game may not be as materially rewarding as traditional geocaching, but it definitely provides a feeling of connection to the players whose towns I’m visiting.
Yo ho ho, Los Angeles, and thanks for the loot.