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Halt! GeoCheckpoint Ahead

Have you been stopped by a GeoCheckpoint yet?

Don’t panic, though, the worst you’ll get is a ticket – and this isn’t a radical crime deterrent by the caching police but rather a new geo-game developed in Europe.

Best described as a geocaching-Munzee hybrid, GeoCheckpointing requires players to use a GPSr or map to locate visible control points – known as GeoCheckpoints. There are no containers, no swags, no trackables and, most importantly for creator Petr Sejba, no annoying logs to write.

Working from an online template, participants create a 6 x 8-centimetre tag – much like a Munzee – which features a three-letter code for their chosen checkpoint site.

“The goal of every GeoCheckpoint is to show others something interesting. It can be a nice place in nature, an historic building, park, lookout, etc – simply anything worth visiting,” Sejba says.

As in geocaching, seekers locate GeoCheckpoint sites online and then proceed to their destination. However, in a Munzee-like twist, the only way to log that visit is by recording the tag’s unique code number on the game’s website.

Three types of GeoCheckpoints exist: Standard, the most common variety, which can be found with a walk of less than three hours and no special equipment; Challenge, denoting a walk of more than three hours; and Commerical, whereby the tag is placed somewhere that charges an entry fee – such as a zoo or national park. However, unlike Business Munzee tags, Commercial GeoCheckpoints cannot be placed “solely for the purpose of financial profit”.

All control points are also ranked by one of three terrain ratings:

  1. Accessible to wheelchair-bound persons.
  2. Suitable for small children.
  3. Suitable for people in good physical condition.

According to the website’s rules, each GeoCheckpoint should be “clearly visible”, located “no more than 150cm above the ground” and at least 250 metres away from any other placement to pass the game’s review process – much like that on GC.com.

Since its mid-September launch, the beta service has gained 150+ users with active GeoCheckpoints in Europe, Canada and most recently the United States.

Creator Petr Sejba kickstarted his game a month ago, placing 50 control points across Europe – starting from his home in Kralupy nad Vltavou and visiting Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Slovakia before returning to the Czech Republic. A fortnight later, he issued his first press release and moved into the promotional phase of his launch plan.

The outdoors buff says he has long enjoyed “orienteering, geocaching and radio-orienteering” but felt “something was missing” from these activities. His solution was GeoCheckpointing.com, which he describes as: “Something you can do any time like geocaching, that you can also enjoy with a map like orienteering” and, most importantly, that “is possible to do without searching for a long time at the final destination” and does not require players to “write any logs”.

Having boiled down the sport to his favourite aspects, Sejba suggests GeoCheckpointing is for “people who want to achieve more outdoors” while geocaching “is great for those who like longer searches and solving mysteries”.

Online, he explains further: “At first glance, GeoCheckpointing may look similar to some other GPS games. However, as soon as you find your first GeoCheckpoint, you will see a big difference.

“GeoCheckpointing requires significantly less time spent on the computer, both when seeking the control points and logging your finds. Also placing new GeoCheckpoints is much easier.

“GeoCheckpoints are clearly visible, so they can be found very quickly. You will not need to spend too much time searching them nor logging your visit. When you find a GeoCheckpoint, simply note the three-letter code and you are ready to continue to another one. It takes only a few seconds. Find multiple GeoCheckpoints, instead of seeking one for a long time, and visit more interesting places during a single trip.

“When you come back from your trip, logging every visit will require no more than a few seconds. Just log in to your account, type the GeoCheckpoint’s number, the three-letter code and select a rating. You need only to type four characters and make four mouse clicks to log your visit. In other words, spend more time outdoors and less time with the computer.”

In a twist unique to Sejba’s game, if a control point goes missing or needs maintenance it can be replaced by any player, not just that GeoCheckpoint’s founder. “This way, users can help to keep all GeoCheckpoints available most of the time,” he says.

“Since GeoCheckpoints are clearly visible, users do not attract unwanted attention. Even a GeoCheckpoint placed in a busy street can be found without waiting for the right moment. Simply go to the GeoCheckpoint, remember the code and write it down the next moment.”

However, Sejba also points out that the extra visibility of GeoCheckpoints will make them a target for vandals or thieves, so he advises players to stick their tags down with tape. His game has not been going long enough for the durability of his recommended laminated or plastic-bagged tags to become an issue, though this has been a problem for Munzee fans, leading to the development of plastic and metal versions.

So far, the project has been a one-man show, though its creator admits to outsourcing some tasks “when needed”. Of late that has involved soliciting “valuable feedback” from users on how to improve his site’s functionaility and fix minor bugs.

Next on Sejba’s to-do list is a GeoCheckpointing application for mobile phones, followed by the release of a free API for developers. In the near future, he also plans to offer premium memberships with extra benefits including exclusive GeoCheckpoints for those prepared to pay.

For the meantime, he’s got a website to police and plenty of tickets to help write.

* Will you sign up as a GeoCheckpoint user? Let us know your views in the comments below.

2 comments

  1. René Lindberg Mikkelsen on Facebook

    hynrid -> hyBrid

  2. Lone R

    Another geo game. Woo hoo. And it turns out there are a surprising amount of GeoCheckPoints within 50km of where I reside. I’ll be checking it out. With gas prices as high as they are it’s nice to have another hide n seek game to play locally.

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