zxoGeosenseYou've heard it before: Americans as a whole are ignorant when it comes to geography. Now, Mark Rossen may have come up with a way to make geography appeal to the average Joe American: competition.

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 meat 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.

Analysis: 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. And because the game offers head-to-head combat, you can challenge one of your buddies who you know will be just as bad as you are.

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.

And be careful: you just might learn something.

Play Geosense

40 Comments

I'm an American and I'm not ignorant of geography. This tendency comes from America as a place of escapism from the rest of the world. People come here to get away from other countries, then have kids, and the path that they take is toward ignorance and blocking out the real world. But it does it really make Americans good people, or are they just escapists? In a country that is primarily anti-intellectual, you can have something like these Amish murders that just happened out in the country where there are supposed to be down-home good "folk". It makes me wonder.

I summer in Vlastinarskigamnoprovskiromsorgi, so that was easy. ;-)

Holy smokes, I need to hit the books. Still, color me surprised: I enjoyed this "game".

Not only is it a fun way to do geography, I also get a chance to see where others think places are. Some observations:
1) According to my competitors, any city in Canada is located in the vicinity of Ottawa. Even Vancouver.
2) Considering current events, it's a bit scary how many people confuse the location of Iraq and Iran.
3) Confusing African and South American countries is embarassing.

Thanks for the link!

I'm sorry to post something negative, but I'm quite offended by Zxo's statement. For one, I clicked on his link, "ignorant" and read the page which discusses YOUNG Americans, not us in general. Secondly, I think a different word other than "ignorant" could have been used. This is about a game, so was it necessary to even bring a lack of geographical knowledge specific to Americans only to this site?
I'm sorry, Jay....you know how much I love your site and what I think of you; I just feel, esp. in a time when our entire planet is at stake that we all need to unite and begin loving each other, not placing stigmas on particular cultures, nationalities or countries. Thanks.

Heyjude - It's a stereotype, and yes, I have heard it before as I am sure you have too, which is why I did not think anything of it when I first read the review.

While the word "ignorant" may have picked up negative connotations through its usage here in the US, the definition of the word shows that it was used here correctly: "lacking knowledge or information as to a particular subject or fact."

It wasn't intended as an insult, so don't take it personally. =)

Ouch... That hurts... I never tought I could be so bad at it... Gonna have to practice or my ego will suffer... lol

And yes it's VERY embarassing to confuse countries from one continent to another...

Rose - I quite agree. I know I will be keeping this one in my favorites for quite some time. Geography was never one of my favored subjects in school.

Well, my hook seems to have caused a bit of a stir. Though I never meant for it to offend anyone, I'm still trying to figure out what exactly was offensive about it. I admit that linking to the article about young Americans was unfair, as my statement addressed Americans in general. However, I was under the impression that Americans = don't know geography was a commonly known stereotype -- one that we ourselves (yes, I too am American) are well aware of and even poke fun at sometimes. Out of the first 10 google results for "Americans and Geography," 7 of them are about our lack of knowledge.

As far as focusing on the game, I think you'll find that all of the sentences besides the first one do that quite nicely!

It's actually rather frustrating being in the American public school system, you know. Out of twelve years of education, we spent maybe three years (maximum) NOT concerned with the US in Social Studies, which encompasses geography. I've been griping about this since about 8th grade and still am in college.

I do think it might be advantageous to start out with countries as a beginner level? Also, what are one's chances of being %100 accurate on such a small-scaled map? I couldn't hit certain places even when I knew exactly where they were supposed to be.

How many other people had to check if Vlastinarskigamnoprovskiromsorgi was real?

I HAD to check if Vlastinarskigamnoprovskiromsorgi was real. If we all google it a lot, someone will surely make a page about it soon :)

Cool game! I've always liked maps so I'm doing well in the game.
But right now i'm playing against someone who lost to me on the first round, and on the second round he just paused the game indefinitely.
I don't know what he's trying to accomplish in that but the pause feature seems like a big loophole in the game.

Sometimes the computer's answers are wrong when you're in single player mode. I got "Sydney, Australia" (I'm from Melbourne, Australia) and clicked the more-or-less correct location... only to have the computer move "Sydney" to Florida! The funny thing is, I'd had Sydney before and got it right. Also, isn't San Diego in California? That was moved to Florida also. It's very annoying, because it really borks your high score!

I'm AWFUL at geography, hopefully I can pick something up from this.

I like this game. I've only played alone so far. My geography is fairly good. If I'm way off, at least I pick the right continent.

I like the fact that there's a distance factor in the scoring. Even though the US (in the world game) doesn't show individual states, I can get pretty darn close to the cities just from memory.

I'm liking this game. I'm OK at geography, but not brilliant, but I've found that playing a few rounds of this is quite educational.
Especially with regards to my knowledge of eastern European geography! I like playing the Europe and USA ones because if makes it really hard since you need to be pretty close to the city and not just know the country. My US geography isn't very good, since I'm British, so just knowing which state is which isn't good enough!
But anyway, the point I was going to make is that I am starting to get a little feeling of cheating going on in this game, because often I can have a round with a player guessing almost exactly on a city. And I can recognise when a player is just good, because they will have consistently good guesses, rather than one round of exact pinpointing after losing a round or something.
I'm sure that this is happening. I'm not a sore loser, I promise!
Thankfully, I haven't experienced anything like Ms. 45 mentioned.

This was actually a lot of fun... somehow i found it a bit addictive.

I thought I was at least decent at geography, and maybe I am for an american. But this was a rather rude awakening, as I routinely get beat by thousands of points by my international opponents. I guess I'll just have to brush up on it!

Nice.
Would be great if you could play multi-player (of course more than 2), and also zoom in/out.
Playing for money (if it hadn't just been banned in the states) would also be my dream come true. . . At the moment the blackmarket system is 10cents per 100 point differential.

When is someone going to make a google earth version! would be beautiful..

Fantastic. Just what I need to brush up on my geography.

1,600 km avg on my first round... but that's because I had no clue where ONLY TWO, thank you, cities were. the other 8 were cocentric guesses. :)

Americans are not dumb - we just can't AFFORD to travel outside our own country. It's far, yo. I doubt an average American kid is any "worse at geography" than an average Norwegian kid. However, the Norwegian kid is going to know where Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are the way a kid in Boston knows where Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, and Connecticut are. It depends on context and has nothing to do with small-mindedness or educational failings. The fact is, America is a giant country that is expensive to get out of and has lots of pretty cool tourist spots right within its borders.

- American expat in Norway

geography isn't just about where countries are its about issues like global warming and deforestation of the amazon rainforest

Nice, guys. You get all offended when Americans are mistaken for young Americans, as if it doesn't matter that there is that stereotype for young Americans. There is a freaking Geography Bee. These kids are amazing.

i got san salvador, and it put me in the pacific. and athens:sparta-jeez!

Syckls you are awesome. Love the comment
heyjude "in a time when our entire planet is at stake that we all need to unite and begin loving each other"
HA ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
Great game by the way

I agree that stereotyping Americans as ignorant in geography is offensive, but as in most stereotypes there is a seed of truth. However, I plead mitigating circumstances for the general lack of intercontinental geography knowledge: Fact 1: We have a huge country. Learning about each state is equivalent to learning about 50 countries in Europe/Asia.

Eurasians and others don't seem to know our state system very well judging by the number of people who plop santa fe down in S. Carolina. They have to learn about one great big America. Americans have to learn about 50 large states most bigger than hundreds of countries.

Another failing in foreigner's knowledge of the states... they think of us as one big culture. Where in reality, our regional identities are as different as Germany and Great Britain (except the language barrier). But our personalities, foods, cultural practices, are exquisitely different. How many from outside the states can pinpoint the cultural regional differences?

So ignorance is arguable, or perhaps equivalent.

-Beve

Well, this 'game' is great!! It helps me know more about the location of cities in Central-Asia, Middle East and Central America.

However... I was wondering... what kind of projection does the map use? how about the scale? because the point we pick do not have a co-ordinate given.. so... how are we supposed to know the point we pick on the map is actually i.e. 51km away from the actual location of the 'real' city?

I like this game alot and I also happen to be really good at geography and hopefully next year I can get into the Nationals for the Geo-bee in the U.S. (I got 13th this past year in WA state) But I have expierenced quite a few errors, Seattle hapens to now be in India and Tokyo always seemed to be in Southern Australia!

I'm an american and i was playing the american one and the game had the city I live is in the wrong place

I'm sorry if anyone else mentioned it here earlier:

two basic notes:

- the names and placings of some settlements are not a 100% correct, which is, I think a shame for a game that tests my ability to place the cities in the map. So far I have met like 4 or 5 deifinitely incorrect spellings (I remember two, both unimportant places: Munkachevo in the Ukraine is misspelt "Mukachevo" and Iasi in Romania is misspellt "Lasi" - I know them because they both used to be Hungarian settlements throughout most of history) and I have seen some sea/ocean side settlements placed celarly inland.

Also, I have seen at least two cases where my opponent put his mark nearer the correct place than I did still it said mine was nearer by some 10 kilometers. Impossible.

And the worst: the scoring. The final score (not the points you get for your distance, but the score of how many rounds you/your opp. won) is almost never correct. There was a case when in reality I won 8:2 (I usually lose so I remember this one rather cearly...) and then it said I lost 4:6... WTF???

And I have "won" and "lost" some more in similar fashion...

Last remark: when I try to place my dot on the part of the map coverd by the transparent dialog box the cursor changes to a text cursor as if I wanted to put some text in the box. It took me a while (and some points :) to figure out that I can still place my dot even if my cursor is a text cursor...

This all is a shame because the game would be a lot of fun...

PS: If i only knew what fun it can be playing this game with Google maps open in another window... I had an opponent with whom i played like 10 games (world map) and never, throughout these 10 games, not once, did he place his mark more than 30 kilometers from the correct place.

Oh, yes.

Realized something else...

You can choose which map you'd like to play - the world, Europe, USA, and so on...

OK, you click one, nad the try to find an opponent, so you hit "Play next available".

And then, when you are paired with someone, sometimes it's gonna be the map he chose... I was trying to find an opp for a world map game, an opponent came and there we were - on the USA map...

Hummm...

Hey Jay, what's this, no walkthrough..!

LOL!!!

For what it is worth, I have just got a perfect score in this game. It's great for capitals and basic knowledge of where countries are on a map but please don't mix this skill with geography!! Geogrpahy is a broad and interesting discipline that contributes significantly to our understandings of social, cultural and physicalpaterns, their interactions and how people interact in them - it is not knowing where capital cities are!!!!!

I want to like this game, I really do, but everyone I played immediately quit on me! (meanies)

Maybe I have to get an account?

Excellent game, reminds me of Globetrotter XL, which I recommend you also check out. Thanks for whoever made this game, it helps my geography loads!!
Matt

The geosense site has been down for a couple of days. I was addicted to the game and now feel desperate to find out what's up. Any one know?

Pretty fun. It's not from a lack of time spent learning geography, it's from how much as Americans we have to learn about AMERICA. I've never heard of most of the countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Far East. Honestly, they are a bunch of imaginary lines. Fun game

Walkthrough:

maps.google.com

Jakarta, Indonesia is also misspelt as Djakarta,and old names are being used for places with currently new names. They also still have Serbia and Montenegro, which is now Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo. Otherwise it is a great game

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