• Mapcrunch: When Exploring The World Becomes A Time-Wasting Game

  • Mapcrunch: When Exploring The World Becomes A Time-Wasting Game

  • Mapcrunch: When Exploring The World Becomes A Time-Wasting Game

Mapcrunch: When Exploring The World Becomes A Time-Wasting Game

If the world has been shrinking ever since the onset of the internet, perhaps Google Street View is primarily to blame. At least that’s what the good people at Mapcrunch want us to believe — just flip through instant Street Views of a host of countries from every continent (yes, even Antarctica) and revel in the festively painted desert houses of Mexico, the dreary vast farmland of Belgium that looks eerily like Quebec, or the deserted plains of South Africa you could be forgiven for thinking were Iowa.

But it’s not all endless roads and open land — there’s an indoor filter that lets you see inside the buildings in a host of countries, from a military museum in Thailand, to a classroom in Tokyo, to a German cheese and meat shop and organic Mexican bodega (international food shoppers eat your heart out). There is also an urban filter that weeds out the countrysides and suburbs and plunges you into the concrete layers that is Hong Kong and Seoul and the quaint isolated settlements that are, let’s be honest, as urban as places like Bermuda or Mongolia get.

And if you don’t know where you want to go there’s the tour and auto filters, which act as a type of autopilot flinging you across the tundra and into the cafes of Oslo or across the dunes, through the forests, and into the cobbled stone alleyways of as many other countries as your heart desires — or at least as many other countries blessed by Google’s all-seeing eye.

But it is the stealth feature that randomizes and hides a location that is responsible for much of Mapcrunch’s renown popularity. It is this feature that is the basis for the eponymous Map Crunch game, which starts and ends with a simple premise:  spawn in any unknown land and find your way to the closet airport to get back home.  It is one of the most popular, unintended time-killing games online, combining the excitement of exploring foreign lands with the shrill panic of being completely stranded there. Suffice to say, if you never make it to the airport, scratch that country off your must-see list.

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