What The Munzee?@!

Do you Munzee?

If you’re suddenly frowning at your computer screen, then the answer is obviously “No”.

However, this free mobile application by American quartet Aaron Benzick, Chris Pick, Scott Foster and Josh Terkelsen has been the talk of the geo-community of late. And more than 1600 curious smartphone users have already tried out the QR code-based game, which bills itself as “taking geocaching to the next level”.

Players create their own QR codes on the Munzee website before placing them – individually or in a cache – for others to find using GPS co-ordinates and a free app available on iTunes or the Android Market store. Once located, each two-dimensional barcode is scanned via the smartphone app, generating points for the finder that will help them advance to the game’s next level.

Co-developer Josh Terkelsen (GC handle: Aggie Wanderers) – himself a geocacher since 2003 – explains Munzee as being “a lot of things”. “It’s a geo-location game, it’s a scavenger hunt, it’s a smartphone game.

“We use the line ‘Munzee is a real-world scavenger hunt game where items are found in the real world and captured using your smartphone’ on the website, and I think that sums it up pretty well.”

That site went live on July 1st and currently has 1600-plus members from 16 countries and six continents – with Terkelsen joking they’re still “waiting for that elusive Antarctica”.

As of yesterday, nearly 1300 QR codes had been placed (or deployed in Munzee terminology) – including five in New Zealand, thanks to Auckland geocacher the.pud.

Terkelsen says the name Munzee stems from the group’s original brainstorming sessions in 2008 when they considered “using poker chips with unique serial numbers on them”.

“At the same time, we were trying to come up with a clever name that people wouldn’t forget. While searching for available domain names, we came across the German word for coin, which is ‘munze’. Adding an extra ‘e’ to the end left us with a catchy name that also was available as a domain name.”

Public reaction has been hugely positive, he says. “Many players have come from a caching background but most of them are completely new [to this type of hobby]. Lots of people like the idea of paperless caching. I think some people have come across us and been a little discouraged that there are not many Munzee hides located near them, but hiding them is half of the fun.”

Surprisingly, though, Terkelsen says Munzee isn’t trying to compete with geocaching. “I see them as complementary yet different services. Opencaching.us – and others in that network – even have us listed as a cache attribute.

“Munzee is totally paper-free and low impact. By being a smartphone-based game, deploying a Munzee is very simple, and capturing (logging a find) is as easy as point and shoot. This should encourage players to be very creative in their placements and allow them to take other people to sites where a cache container may not be practical.”

For now, most Munzees involve “a laminated gamepiece”, though the option exists to deploy a proper geocache-style container with swag and a QR code in place of – or alongside – a standard logbook. Unlike GC.com, such placements are not reviewed but Terkelson is confident that his community will police itself.

“You can put one just about anywhere (with proper permission and following our placement guidelines) but the joy in the game is the hunt and the find, right? We hope – and continue to find – that our players are really putting some creative hides out there.”

Specifially, those rules state that: Munzees cannot be placed at airports; within 500 feet – or 152 metres – of a municipal building, school, playground, pool or memorial area; on private property without permission; and must be a “reasonable distance” from other scans.

Reaction on Facebook has been divided between geocachers who don’t have a suitable phone to try Munzee themselves, those who feel it’s a positive step for geocaching, and others who wish there were more QR codes in their district.

But Terkelsen says that as a new entity, Munzee is a constantly evolving operation. “We have a great game that is a ton of fun, and we are continuing to develop and improve the game (literally) daily. In the last two weeks alone, we have added some expanded stats, increased map coverage, upgraded our community forums and released at least two updates to the original app release.

“We’re adding features like the Journal – which will allow a player feedback/interface – ratings, notifications and mobile history in the near future to allow the game to continue to be new and fun for all players.”

He also says “there’s a LOT of stuff in the works as well, but it’s hush hush for now…”. However, It’s Not About The Numbers understands future rollouts could include the ability for businesses to deploy promotional Munzees instore, as well as possible rewards for players who reach a certain game level.

All Terkelsen will say is: “Be patient … but keep checking back for more features and TONS more fun!”

*If you’ve captured or deployed a Munzee, tell us about it below.


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  1. Victoria

    I looked at the site during the week, even registered, then discovered that my iphone isn’t compatible with the app. Don’t know why they couldn’t be bothered making an app that works on the 3GS instead of just the 4.

    1. Josh

      The 3GS is compatible with the Munzee software. Please email us at info@munzee.com if you need additional support, we would be glad to help you out!

  2. Josh

    Thanks so much for the interview and the post!

  3. Zalgariath

    I was put onto Munzee by a friend Cacher in London, we were the first 2 in the UK, but being Aussie myself shared the idea on the Geocaching Australia Forums… under two weeks it has already started going pretty nuts back home thanks to the caching community. I agree with the Devs, Munzee is complimentary to Caching, not a competitor. The Devs are super responsive to feedback and community suggestions, implementing suggestions all the time. Very excited to see where this train goes 😉

  4. Andrew

    Great interview. I just started placing Munzees here in Colorado a couple of days ago and I think it has the potential to become a really cool and fun companion game to go along with Geocaching.

  5. Matt

    I saw a post on FB from a Washington GC buddy on his placement of a Munzee. Signed up the next day and have been having fun ever since. 🙂

  6. Chris

    I found my first munzee yesterday, but am perplexed as to why coordinates are listed on the actual website page, yet they don’t show up on the phone app. I HATE that kind of inconsistency.

    1. Zork V

      My android app shows the Co-ords on the phone too now.

      Just a hint , if you are deploying your own munzee and have GPS unit. Do an averaging waypoint with it and fine tune the co-ords. Smart phones aren’t as accurate as GPS.

  7. Anne

    I first heard about Munzees today. I downloaded the free app and drove to Estes Park, Colorado where I found 5. Interesting variation on Geocaching. Unfortunately, there are only 7 in Northern Colorado. Will have to Drive a ways to find more. I should also try placing a few since you get points for that too. We’ll see if this takes off as much as geocaching has!

  8. Zork V

    Having a great time find ing and hiding Munzees. I have hidden 15 so far in Auckland and beyond. I am making my own Munzee plates on a printable aluminium sheet, whick look fantasic and scan well too

  9. Robin Hall

    Love it, love it, love it.

    For any geocacher that is considering placing yet another pointless film can or nano, this is the ideal game to play INSTEAD. Then geocaching gets protected from being no more than a crap numbers game.

    Should be mandatory.

    1. kjwx

      I capture Munzee tags for a different reason but part of me has to agree with your train of thought, Robin. That said, there are some Munzers doing amazingly creative things around the world (and more than a few of them are geocachers too).
      I take it then you’re not a fan of Geocaching.com’s Photo and Action Challenges either?

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