Geo-Survey Motivated By Professor’s Hobby


Categories: Geocaching News Research United States


QMWhat makes you turn on your GPSr and head out the door?

It’s a question that’s been puzzling Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Dr Robert W Lindeman (GC handle: 8ManAfter) so last month, the Massachusetts-based associate professor and his Computer Science students launched an online Geocacher Motivations study.


Robert W Lindeman

In Lindeman’s case, it was his own interest in this hobby that motivated him to organise the survey of players aged 18 and over. “I’ve done significant caching in several different areas (Massachusetts, New Zealand, Japan), and have met many cachers in each region,” he says.

“I was struck by how varied the motivations and personalities of people are, how the hides differ, and so on. I’ve also noticed how my own motivations have changed since I started caching (a little more than two years ago).

“Since I teach game development, I started looking at caching from this perspective, in order to see how the design of the game is really unique, in that it supports such a large number and type of play styles. I also didn’t find much previous research on the subject. So, it sounded interesting to look at.”

To date, his team has collected “about 450 responses, mostly from North America and Australia/New Zealand then Europe”. “We are launching a Japanese language version of the survey soon, and German as well.”

This first phase of the study will run for another month before Lindeman and his students implement a more comprehensive investigation. “The data from this survey will be used to design a deeper one. The data from that one will be used to analyse geocaching motivations for suggestions of new ways of playing, but also to inform other, new game designs.”

At this point, Lindeman – who spent a year living and geocaching in New Zealand from July 2011 to July 2012 – is not sure what the initial study data will show. However, it’s probably a safe bet that his undergraduate students who recently took up the sport are largely motivated by getting good grades.

*Have you completed Worcester Polytechnic Institute‘s Survey of Geocacher Motivations yet? If not, fill in your answers here.
**To learn more on this subject, you could also try reading the online abstract to Kenton O’ Hara’s 2008 paper Understanding Geocaching Practices and Motivations.


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