Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Now for real; The new virtual: Challenges!

Whoops, it turns out that Cumbyrocks and myself were wrong about the new virtuals, although we both still think it is a great idea…. But this really is what Groundspeak refers to as the new virtuals: Challenges!

Here is a small description of what challenges will be by CDJ Abuser on the Groundspeak forums:

"At GC2GA1J, Jeremy explained that the ‘new’ virtuals would be implemented as ‘challenges’. Not challenge caches (or caching challenges) obviously, but he explained that he and his team saw virtuals as a ‘go somewhere and do something’ kinda thing, and that’s what the new ‘challenges’ will be. The first released type will be a photo challenge: go somewhere and take a picture. He also explained that there will be no review system, but rather some kind of rating system, with good challenges rising to the top and bad ones falling to the bottom and (maybe?) eventually disappearing, and that the whole system was seen as an experiment on their part.”

From this piece of information I am not very thrilled about the challenges. This first challenge type, the go somewhere and take a picture, is very similar to the old virtual cache where you had to take a picture or answer a question to prove you have been at the location. I have never liked this kind of caches as there was no logging opportunity to share your initial feeling with the cache owners and other cachers. And the first reaction is always the best. I was also missing the creativity from the cache owner. Taking a picture is just too easy. With a little bit of creativity and a good hint, you can hide a cache everywhere, also in the most crowded places.

Now the new challenges. I like the word challenges. I think each Geocache is a challenge. A go there and write your name the logbook challenge. From what Jeremy explained to CDJ Abuser, I understand that Groundspeak is going to release challenge types. In my opinion, Groundspeak should give this to the users and only provide a platform to create and share your type of challenge with the Geocaching community.

What the challenge will be is up to the creativity of the challenge owner. It can vary from ‘take a picture’ to ‘scan the QR code’ or ‘do the Macarena dance with at least 10 strangers and post a video of it in the log’ challenge. As long as you can prove you have completed the challenge, maybe with some simple additional functionality on the Geocaching website, for example secret logging codes criteria, it is a challenge. If you see where the community has taken the Geocache since it was first placed in the year 2000, I think the creativity from challenge creators goes far beyond what Groundspeak can think of as challenge types and therefore Groundspeak should only be the platform provider.

If Groundspeak is prepared to give the creativity to the community, they could become the community leader and online meeting point for things like flash mobs, planking and other weird and less weird stuff people love to do as a challenge... Wouldn't that be great?

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