Google Earth might be the best game of 2017

The new version of Google Earth is always open in my browser. It works directly in a tab now, rather than being a program that I have to run separately, and it is the one tab I will never close. If I’m at a loose end I switch across to it, click the button that takes me to a random landmark or place, and zoom around for a while. Or I use Mapcrunch to find a random Streetview point and explore from there. It’s a useful tool but it’s also a great toy.

It’s a wonderful, brilliant thing in general really, and I’m trying to invent actual games that I can play with it. There’s an old Mapcrunch game, which involves going to a random spot somewhere on Earth and then searching, just through Streetview, to figure out where you are. Roadsigns are helpful, to get a language if nothing else, and sometimes you can pinpoint a country or even city fairly quickly. Other times, you end up in the middle of nowhere, staring at fields or forests and wondering how you’ll ever find your way home.

But Google Earth’s 3d mode actually looks like a game. I made a bad Cities: Skylines joke using a screenshot earlier today.

While I’m trying to come up with a set of rules – which I’d love your help with – here are some places that I have known in my life.

There’s my favourite bar. It’s underground so it’s not very impressive, but I like that it’s surrounded by tall buildings. I didn’t know there were cars parked on the roof just next to it.

The Barbican looks predictably amazing.

Gigg Lane is where I saw my first live football match, with my grandpa who didn’t miss a home game in his entire life, except during World War II when he was otherwise disposed. The official Football League was suspended at any rate. His ashes were scattered on the pitch.

And here’s one spot where I used to walk my dogs, years ago. It looks like it might be a prototype XCOM map.

I was born here!

And Hank’s Bar, which is just inside the Stillwell Hotel on the bottom right there, is where I hid in the evenings during E3.


  1. Premium User Badge

    platypusfool says:

    Aah Temple Bar in Manchester. The only bar in the world you can call a toilet and it be both true, and a compliment.

  2. Thirith says:

    RPS was predictably lukewarm on the VR version of this, but anyone who’s got a Vive or Oculus Rift should do themselves a favour and check it out, especially now that it’s officially compatible with OR and has more sensible Touch controls. It’s pretty amazing and surprisingly disconcerting when you get too close to things; yesterday I checked out my usual walk home from work at ground level, and while things in the distance looked pretty real, my immediate surroundings looked like the aftermath of some surreal, China Miéville-style apocalypse.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Don Reba says:

    It works directly in a tab now, rather than being a program that I have to run separately, and it is the one tab I will never close.

    It’s IE6, I mean — Chrome-only. We’re back to the old days of the internet at this point.