Lost in maps

Newstatesman.com picks out another desktop distraction to help you waste time over the long weekend

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Sometimes games are engaging not because of the promise of success, but the sheer improbability of it. Today’s distraction is another one from the stable of Google Map Mash-ups, which was highlighted as a featured project on Google Code back in June. (Incidentally, Google Code is well worth checking regularly - as some interesting and left-field projects are often released on there... )

Placespotting is a wonderfully simple concept that presents you with two maps. On one is a satellite image of a location, on the other is a map of the world. Following the clues supplied, your task is to locate the place on the first image by navigating to it using the second. Sound easy? No, thought not. Being a homebrew project, it suffers somewhat from a rather egalitarian user-interface, but at its core is a great idea. Also, the whole site is driven by user-generated challenges which provides an alarming disparity in both difficulty and quality of the tasks, but at its core is a great idea that could provide the foundations for a more polished experience.

To save you the trouble of truffling through the lists of potential maps to solve, I’ve offered up a few of my favourites here... Enjoy!

Think you can escape from here?

I killed lots of people in 79 A.D.

The boss put it on The River

Iain Simons writes, talks and tweets about videogames and technology. His new book, Play Britannia, is to be published in 2009. He is the director of the GameCity festival at Nottingham Trent University.