Fun with GPS

Caitlin Dempsey



There seems to be a plethora of games and alternatives emerging to take advantage of the affordability of handheld GPS units.

In a previous article on the GIS Lounge, the high-tech treasure hunting game of Geocaching was discussed.

Still looking for ways to have fun with your GPS unit? Learn about more ways to use the surface of the earth as your gameboard.   This article will provide an overview on two more GPS-based ideas: Geodashing and GPS Drawing. 


Geodashing is very similar to geocaching in the sense that people are searching for a particular spot with only a set of coordinates as their clue. In this game, a set of waypoints known as dashpoints are randomly generated by a computer.

These points are located in areas worldwide and posted to the web. The objective is to find as many of these dashpoints as possible. The competition is either done individually or as part of a team.

As dashpoints are reached, the locator reports back with information about the site. Since the points are generated randomly, one of the drives of the games is the unpredictability of where those points may turn out to be.

As the Geodashing site states; “Getting there is All the fun.

GPS Drawing

The GPS Drawing Project seeks to display GPS-based artistry created by navigating through a landscape with a GPS unit. The linear trail that was collected by the GPS Data Logger created the resulting art.

There is a gallery of the GPS art that the user can browse through. Each entry contains an interactive shockwave called “GPS-o-shockwave” of the GPS route as well as a description of the area the artist navigated.

The entry entitled “The Brighton Elephant” gives a good perspective of GPS art. Accompanying the GPS drawing is an aerial of the area navigated with the route overlaid.

The art isn’t just restricted to land. Also listed in the GPS Gallery are drawings obtained by sea and by air. Most of the submittals appear to be from England, but there is also GPS art from points in Thailand, China, and South Korea.

The submittal of GPS art is open to anyone. Ascii files of the GPS points are welcome to be submitted to the site. There is also a shockwave application where you can copy and paste your GPS data points to see what your GPS-based art looks like.

Geosocial Exergames

An International Journal of Health Geographics Editorial by Kamel Boulos and Yang discusses how mobile exergames for GPS (global positioning system)-enabled smartphones and mini-tablets can take players outdoors, in the open air, unlike console exergames (such as those using Kinect).

The rise in popularity of geosocial exergames coincides with the increase in GPS-enabled devices and ways to harness the power of sharing through online social networks and gamification principles.

Dokobots is a geosocial exergame for iOS devices.
Dokobots is a geosocial exergame for iOS devices.

The real world becomes the ‘game map’ or playground in these games, and players can even discover and learn about new places and their geographies while burning calories.

The editorial:

Boulos, M. N. K., & Yang, S. P. (2013). Exergames for health and fitness: the roles of GPS and geosocial appsInternational journal of health geographics12(1), 1-7.

A supplement to the article lists an inventory complete with description and URLs of  available GPS exergames and geosocial apps and devices including geocaching, a popular GPS treasure hunting game.

Read next: Fun Map and Geography Themed Gifts for 2012

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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.

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