Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Traveler IQ Challenge

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.


Graeme said...

This is a seriously cool game! I am finding that my knowledge of Africa and southeast Asia is woefully inadequate. My best score (though I've only played twice) is a little over half of yours...

Yappa said...

I started out way lower than I am now... I got addicted and spent last weekend playing over and over. I found it easy to memorize most places but China and Russia are still posing some problems for me.

Anonymous said...

Theres 15 questions on the last few not 12 dude Thats how the guy got 70000

Yappa said...

Thanks danmc!

I kept thinking I'd made some stupid mistake like that. I corrected the post.

Anonymous said...

This game is extremly addictive!!! My best score is 614330, but still i need a lot of improve, especially in Russia, China and Australia!

But still.... I think it is almost impossible to get this high score of the first 25 people. IMPOSSIBLE!

Unknown said...

my highest score is 526000
i have to improve in Russia and all ISLANDS!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

lol. my best score is only 673,379 pts... im ranked about 200 in the world.
i got all of them pretty close to about 5000 or more.. except for the some of the islands in level 12, and some russian cities in level 11.

with those, i think it is possible to get in the top 25.. you just have to practice the targeting AND timing..

Anonymous said...

btw, to help you guys, these are the Russian cities that appear on level 11 & 12: (from west to east)
-Murmansk; Rostov; Nizhniy-Novogrod; Volgograd; Yekaterinburg; Omsk; Novosibirsk; Krasnoyarak; Irkutsk; Vladivostok;
Khabarovsk; Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk; Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.

(i assume you guys know where St. Petersburg and Moscow is...)

Anonymous said...

erhm, what's the highest score that one can attain per question? currently the top scores are about 706,000! a quick calculation shows that their average score per click is 5,430 (706,000/130)..that's near impossible, no?

any tips on how to achieve a higher score? perhaps a larger screen would indeed help..

good lucking clicking!

Anonymous said...

I am at 635,000 and find hard to get better. I have a lap top with a small screen. For the best ones there must be a trick. An easy one would be to put a trasparent on the screen and mark few difficult spots such as Salomon Islands , Palau etc. For sure this would give you a good boost. Anyway my record was clear and with no tricks...

gipsy_scholar said...

For anybody interested, there is a new Traveler IQ Challenge Discussion Group just started over at Yahoo Groups.
Things are a bit quiet at the moment, but things will liven up as more and more people discover this great game in the very near future. If you are a Traveler IQ Challenmge fan why not come on over an introduce yourself today.

gipsy_scholar said...

For anybody interested, there is a new Traveler IQ Challenge Discussion Group just started over at Yahoo Groups.
Things are a bit quiet at the moment, but things will liven up as more and more people discover this great game in the very near future. If you are a Traveler IQ Challenmge fan why not come on over an introduce yourself today.

Unknown said...

Great blog on this addictive game, thanks. So far so good, I'm at 593,000 points and hoping to get my traveler iq to 140's, after that I won't play so frequently...

Unknown said...

Quick update, now I'm at 627,000 points and 138 iq, still 2 short on my iq goal but my score on level 12 was 65,000 which gets you to a 'congratulations' window since you have finished the game and ranked in 17,000 overall.

So I consider myself 'free of this addiction' for now and wish the best for those who are still playing.

Let me give a hand here, for level 12 check out the following locations from Google maps: Vadso, Norway; St. Pierre Miquelon; Jayapura, Indonesia; Dodoma, Tanzania; Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia; Guahati, Jaisalmer, and Pushkar, India; Qingdao, China; Geraldton, Australia.

Yaman from Istanbul, Turkey (comes up in a level:). Out.

Yappa said...

Thanks yaman... I'm impressed by your progress! My problem is getting back to it. I want to, but I know how addictive it is and how much time is required to get good. (I have probably forgotten some of the more obscure islands by now.) I keep thinking that I don't have time to start up again.

Anonymous said...

wow, that is the most extensive and informational reading i've done on this game!
you are definitely a pro!
i'm only at 514,598, and am having a hard time memorizing my micronesian islands and european colonies

i figure russian cities is almost impossible as there is really no point of reference. moscow comes up so often i can even smell it coming now, but i still can't pinpoint it within 100 km for the reason i've mentioned.

thanks for the tutorial tho! you're awesome :)

Anonymous said...


Hamzah said...

One trick I've learned to improve accuracy is to right click and zoom in (can be done multiple times). When completed you right click and choose "show all". This helps nail tiny places like Singapore and Dili-Timore.

Anonymous said...

I need help with Africa, does anyone have any tips?

Oanh Tr said...

I have a fancy for your posts. They are so great and useful. You deserve a pat on the back for your sharing. I wish you can update articles often. I hope I could read them everyday. Your posts offer advice to me. Thanks very much!
Free Rider 3 gogy