The Facebook game Traveler IQ Challenge was created by TravelPod, an Ottawa-based company that was acquired by TripAdvisor in late 2006. The game is fun, educational and thoroughly addictive. This post refers to the World challenge game, but there are other games as well (World Capitals, UNESCO sites, regional games, etc).
As far as I can tell the game is only available through Facebook. Here is the official statistics page from TravelPod. You might need a Facebook account to access the game here.
Details of the game
The game works like this: the name of a place pops up and you use your mouse to locate it on a map of the world. Your score is presented and then another name pops up... and so on. I play quite quickly and a game takes me 10-15 minutes. At the end you are presented with your final score. If you scroll down the page you'll see the top scores in the world, as well as the top scores of people in your friend list.
The game consists of 12 levels, each with a number of questions. Here's a game I played recently:
Level 1: Havana, Cuba; Venice, Italy; Brasilia, Brazil; Cape Town, South Africa; Houston, USA (5 questions)
Level 2: Versailles Palace, France; Tower of London, England; Sydney Opera House, Australia; Buckingham Palace, England; St. Paul's Cathedral, England; St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City; Carlsbad Cavern, USA (7 questions)
Level 3: Paris, France; Cairo, Egypt; Helsinki, Finland; Rejkjavik, Iceland; Mexico City, Mexico; Montevideo, Uraguay; Sucre, Bolivia (7 questions)
Level 4: Antwerp, Belgium; Baltimore, USA; Philadelphia, USA; Kyoto, Japan; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Marseilles, France; Anaheim, USA; Jacksonville, USA; Oslo, Norway; Istanbul, Turkey (10 questions)
Level 5: Battle of Hastings, England; Xel-Ha (Mayan Ruins), Mexico; Oriental Pearl Tower, China; Mount Everest, Nepal; Uluru (Ayers Rock), Australia; Battle of Stalingrad (1942-3), Russia; Leptis Magna, Libya; Hagia Sophia, Turkey; Rapa Nui (Easter Island); The Alhambra, Spain (10 questions)
Level 6: Manila, Phillipines; San Jose, Costa Rica; Kyiv, Ukraine; Asuncion, Paraguay; Kabul, Afghanistan; Bangkok, Thailand; Freetown, Sierra Leone; Paramaribo, Suriname; Pretoria, South Africa; Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic (10 questions)
Level 7: Calcutta, India; Belo Horizonte, Brazil; Caracas, Venezuela; Cinque Terre, Italy; Santiago, Chile; Osaka, Japan; Ho Chi Minh City, Japan; Myrtle Beach, USA; Killarney, Ireland; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; Dusseldorf, Germany; Hanoi, Viet Nam (12 questions)
Level 8: Luanda, Angola; Kigali, Rwanda; Maseru, Lesotho; Astana, Kazakhstan; Tbilisi, Georgia; Vilnius, Lithuania; Kuwait City, Kuwait; Mogadishu, Somalia; Djibouti, Djibouti; Sofia, Bulgaria; Manama, Bahrain; Tegucigalpa, Honduras (12 questions)
Level 9: Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt; Kathmandu, Nepal; Columbo, Sri Lanka; Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire; Guangzhou, China; Mumbai (Bombay), India; Hamilton, Bermuda; Vientiane, Laos; Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea; Queenstown, New Zealand; Ubud, Indonesia; Kandahar, Afghanistan (12 questions)
Level 10: Thimphu, Bhutan; Niamey, Niger; Muscat, Oman; Palikir, Federated States of Micronesia; Honiara, Solomon Islands; Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; Bangui, Central African Republic; Mbabane, Swaziland; Podgorica, Montenegro; Zagreb, Croatia; N'Djamena, Chad; Port Louis, Mauritius; Basselerre, St. Kitts and Nevis; Maputo, Mozambique; Brazzaville, Republic of Congo (15 questions)
Level 11: Christmas Island, Australia; Nundle, Australia; Yekaterinaberg, Russia; Daugavpils, Latvia; Pagan Island, Northern Marianes; Ushuaia, Argentina; Bam, Iran; Tigre, Argentina; Iqaluit, Canada; Luang Prabang, Laos; Cluj-Napoca, Romania; Naxcivan, Azerbaijan; Yogyakarta, Indonesia; Port Arthur, Australia; Mancora, Peru (15 questions)
Level 12: Urumqi, China; Koror City, Palau; Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland; Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia; Larak Island, Iran; Brasov, Romania; Yellowknife, Canada; Kimberly, South Africa; Tikrit, Iran; Al Khurtum, Sudan; Ventspils, Latvia; Omsk, Russia; Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia; Wangerooge, Germany; Val-d'Or, Canada (15 questions)
Total = 130 questions
The game isn't impossibly difficult because there seem to be only about 300 places that are used so it's possible to memorize them by repeated playing. Also, some countries are more highly represented than others (especially the US, Canada, Italy, England and Australia). For example, the only places it might ask you about in Canada are the Bay of Fundy, Calgary, the CN Tower, Edmonton, Iqaluit, Montreal, Niagara Falls, Ottawa, Portage au Prairie, Quebec City, Toronto, Val d'Or, Vancouver, Winnipeg, and Yellowknife. There are seven places in Norway, about two dozen in Australia, about a dozen in Italy... in most countries there are is only one, or in bigger countries two. There are some islands that are a bit tricky to pin down, but the only one that is still buggering me up is Easter Island, which doesn't come up very frequently.
Improving your score
When you start World IQ Challenge the splashscreen says that speed matters. However, the points you get from time are much, much less than the points you get from accuracy.
The following graphics give you an idea of how to score high points. The first graphic shows a very high score: I clicked within 28 kilometers of the target in 1.55 seconds. (The red arrow shows you where you clicked; the green arrow is the correct location.) It's difficult to do much better than this:
The next graphic shows that it is much better to take an extra second or two to perfect your accuracy. I was almost as quick (1.71 seconds), but I was 800 kilometers off. That cost me 1,543 points for accuracy and 8 points for time:
My top score for a game is 631,067. Since there are 130 questions, that works out to an average of 4,854 points per question. I could definitely improve my score. I am still a bit sloppy - I frequently do something stupid like click in Spain when I mean France, or (worse) in Australia when I mean China. (This happens because the world map is quite small.) Also, while I started the game with a good grasp of countries I am still building my city knowledge, especially in China and Russia. And I have to figure out how to be more accurate with spots that have no easy reference points - like the middle of the south Pacific (I can get close, but close might be 1,000 kilometers).
I found that decreasing the resolution on my monitor (making the map bigger) gave my score a boost. I also got a better score when I learned to slow down; in particular, after clicking on a location I pause, read the score and make careful note of the green flag that shows the correct location.
World Challenge IQ shows the top 25 scores in the world. (When you open the game, scroll down and you'll see the list.) The top score is 702,629, which averages 5,405 points per question. That is close to perfection. It would require getting less than 20 kilometers from every location in less than 2 seconds... not bad.
For another good (but simpler) map game, see Map Game.