Ciaran Watkins – Map Crunching My Way Back Home

Posted on March 7, 2011 by


I was made aware of a website last night. A normal looking website, with quite a unique way of using google maps streetview. It’s called Map Crunch. You see, map crunch is sort of like google maps, but it’s sort of not. Map Crunch is special! It’s a website in which you can transport anywhere in the world (providing there are streetview images available), and immediately start to snoop around looking for open windows and unlocked doors of strangers houses. I mean, isn’t that what streetview is used for? Right Daily Mail readers? Any way, you can choose a few different options, like the country you’re transported to, whether or not you’re ‘spawned’ in a city or not, and a final little check box that makes all the difference, hide your location.

It’s a brilliant little tool that can kill a few hours when you’re bored. Just look at this picture! It took me to Antarctica, where I got to see some penguins in street view! I didn’t even know street view existed of Antarctica, but there it is!

So at the moment, it’s quite innocent. It’s a fun website to kill an hour or so on, but some absolute genius has turned it into something so much more. Remember hearing about chatroulette all those months ago? It was the talk of the town for a few months thanks to websites like 4chan and Something Awful proclaiming it as the next best thing? Well I think you’re going to find MapCrunch being talked about sooner rather than later. Someone posted a little game that you can play with Map Crunch, and I’m going to explain it now. It’s not unlike a T.V programme which aired on Channel 4 late at night, but this time when you die in the game, you die for real. You don’t really, that was just for suspense.

IDORT MODE: Select your country, check cities only, hit N.
CASUAL MODE: Select your country, hit N.
NORMAL MODE: Select your country, hide location, check cities only, hit N.
ADVENTURE MODE: Select your country, hide location, hit N.
/V/ETEREN MODE: Hide location, check cities only, hit N.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. MODE: Hide location, hit N.

CASUAL: Find an airport, fly home.
HARDCORE: Walk your ass home.

Use the compass.
Click on the road ahead instead of using the arrows for WARP SPEED.

Basically, it’s been turned into a gigantic game of hide and seek, in which you are hidden to a variety of difficulties, and have to seek your way back home either to an airport, or if spawned in your own country, to your doorstep. Don’t understand? Let me show you. First, we’re going to load up mapcrunch. Good. On the right hand side we have the control panel. This is how you start your game of MAPCRUNCH. I like to play Stalker mode, so I’m not going to choose a country to spawn in. Cities only will spawn you in a city, but that’s for losers so I’ll leave it unchecked. Finally I’m going to check the ‘hide my location’ button just above the map, and then I’m going to hit ‘N’ to start my game. Let’s see where it takes me.

And so it begins. Basically, from here I need to find my way to the closest city, find my way to the airport if they have one, and get my bum back home in time for tea. Each ‘game’ is different, and equally frustratingly brilliant. All it took was a little ingenuity on a strangers behalf, and there’s a game that can keep anyone interested for a good couple of hours, and the best thing? It’s completely and utterly free. It feels like I’m using the word ‘game’ incorrectly, as it’s hardly an AAA title running on the newest console, but as an entity that provides fun and wastes time, it’s incredibly entertaining. It reminds me of those ‘hacker’ quests, in which you had to view source code and hidden links in order to get to the next page. This one’s even easier, because it’s all about common sense. Spawn, find town, find city, find airport, go home. If you learn something along the way? Brilliant.

This is a potential gold mine! If this ‘game’ hits off, then what’s to stopping it being bought into by advertisers? The clicks on the website alone will have been driven up monumentally by the likes of the channers and the forum users who are already ‘playing’, and with this blog post I’m helping that even more. Those googleads will become more and more profitable, and the website’s hits will sky rocket. I don’t think the site could be sold, because after all it’s using an existing product, albeit in a new way, but it just seems like it’s the new social hit of the month. It’s an easy to play browser game, and I’d sure as hell choose this over something like Farmville.

Again, like my post on Video Games and The Social Network where I looked at Autolog, this website and the specific way of using it’s innocent features, seems to be another example of how members of the internet communities love to create, share, and play. It’s a great thing to behold, and it’s even better to be one of those people who can say ‘I used that when it was cool, you know, before Ben Folds was on it’. After all, doesn’t everyone want to be that guy with something cool to show their friends? I know I immediately showed this to my girlfriend, and now I’m showing it to you. A little creativity goes a long way these days, and sometimes that’s all that’s needed in this hectic environment. For now though, happy crunching. I’ve got a game to play, and an airport to find. I really don’t think I’m in Texas any more.

Read more over at Whatever’s In There, Falls Out Here.

Posted in: Ciaran Watkins