The Bliss of Pinning Ashgabat just 8km off its Precise Location: Traveler IQ Challenge

I recently found out that Traveler IQ Challenge, a game that I had been thoroughly addicted to when it came out nearly 15 years ago, can still be played on TravelArk, after it’s been taken off Facebook (its initial main platform) many moons ago and all but forgotten.

What is Traveler IQ Challenge?

The concept is easily explained. Through 12 levels of increasing difficulty, world map after world map builds up on your screen and a location name, typically a city or other tourist attraction like a national park, mountain, monument, or museum, gets displayed. You need to pin the location as quickly and as accurately as you can. As soon as you’ve clicked, the system will pin the actual location and indicate the distance in kilometres between the actual location and your pin. Then the next map builds up and the next location gets displayed, and so on. Each level takes about one minute and you have to achieve a minimum number of points to progress.

What’s the attraction?

It is highly competitive (not many things are more competitive than being assigned an IQ that you can then compare with your peers – ouch.. just realised how this makes me sound, that’s actually totally not me at all, I’m just stating a fact. 🙂 ). It involves a lot of pressure and compromise (it is nearly impossible to pin a location precisely, even if you’d know the location perfectly well, simply because your typical computer screen will be way too small; there is also very little time). And that’s – I would think – selling points that should apply to nearly everyone.

You love maps? Even better (but no need to).

If, like me, you love maps, then the game is pure bliss. You get to spend the whole game on a sequence of maps. And.. the map is completely empty and you get to pin the locations from scratch.

Why the world would undoubtedly be a better place if everyone would play Traveler IQ Challenge from dusk till dawn

The obvious reason why the world would be a better place is simply that you are not going to cause any harm to others if you’re staring at a computer screen like a mental mongoose on meth, ready to jump or pin at any moment.

But also, just like the worst racists are often the people who have had the least exposure to foreign cultures, I would take any bet that dimwits like Trump would find it harder to cause havoc on the world stage if at least they knew where the countries they engage with are located. Here’s a selection of Trump quotes:

“Nambia’s health system is increasingly self-sufficient” (the African heads of state present were unclear if Gambia, Zambia, or Namibia was meant as Trump kept going on about ‘Nambia’)

“We’ve just launched 59 missiles…heading to Iraq.” (his live TV interviewer clarified Trump must have meant Syria)

“It was headed for disaster and now we’re talking. […] They called up a couple of days ago; they said, ‘We would like to talk.’ And I said, ‘So would we, but you have to denuke.” (Trump later confirmed that it was South Korea he had spoken with, not North Korea)

What else?

Traveler IQ Challenge has got a really cool history and background.

When Facebook finally opened their platform to independent programmers for apps and games, Luc Levesque, the founder of travel blogger platform TravelPod, saw the marketing potential. He remembered a game he and his friends played on long train trips where someone would randomly call out the name of a country, and then the next person in the round would have to name a country that starts with the fourth letter of the previous country’s name.

He commissioned two developer buddies of his with the creation of a simple geography-related game for Facebook, and they came up with Traveler IQ Challenge in just three weeks.

Within a year, the game had attracted a loyal following of more than four million regular players. TravelPod multiplied its user numbers and a huge success story was born. Unfortunately TravelPod closed down two years ago. TravelArk took over some of the content (hence why you can still find the game on there).

Finally, I could really use some competition, guys.

Looking for more ideas for fun activities? Check out our posts for Lock’d Escape Room and London in the Sky (dining), both London, Europe’s biggest medieval pageant in Landshut, the Robot Restaurant, Tokyo, and New York’s best food tour.

For travel blog posts, feel welcome to eyeball our articles about Spitsbergen, Morocco, and the Cotswolds.

Restaurant reviews include Ratskeller, Munich, Benoit, Paris, Ekeberg Restauranten, Oslo, and Galvin la Chapelle, London.

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