Rainbolt isn’t the best GeoGuessr player in the world. This award is often attributed to a Dutch teenager named GeoStique or a French player named Blinky. But as of around the beginning of this year, Rainbolt has been the standard bearer for GeoGuessr thanks to his compelling social media posts, which he shares with his 820,000 followers on TikTok and other social platforms.
Appearing in a hoodie and sometimes with headphones while dramatic classical music plays in the background, Rainbolt identifies lands from a seemingly simple glance at the sky or a stand of trees.
In some videos, he guesses the right place after looking at a Street View image for just a tenth of a second, or black and white, or pixelated – or all together. In others, he is blindfolded and (correctly) guessing a description someone else is giving him.
The videos that have caused the most shock are the ones in which Rainbolt uses his topographical detective work to identify exactly where music videos were filmed. In a viral clip, he found the exact Nevada street from a video of a person driving a capybara. “If I ever go missing I hope someone hires this guy for me,” one Twitter user commented.
GeoGuessr was developed in 2013 by a Swedish software engineer, Anton Wallen, who came up with the idea while traveling around the United States. Early influencers like GeoWizard, a British Youtuber, helped promote the game. It also gained popularity during the pandemic when it introduced a multiplayer mode called Battle Royale.
Rainbolt’s social media posts further boosted it. Last month, in a publicity streak, Rainbolt live-streamed with Ludwig Ahgren, a former Twitch personality who now broadcasts to 3 million followers on YouTube.
The GeoGuessr site has 40 million accounts, said Filip Antell, who leads content for GeoGuessr, a Stockholm-based company with 25 employees. Some of these people are subscribers who deposit $2 per month to play unlimited games. The revenue, Antell said, goes to paying developers and Google, which charges GeoGuessr for using its software.
Despite his global knowledge, the Arkansas-raised Rainbolt never left North America. But he has plenty of places on his bucket list, including Laos and the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. People tell Rainbolt his passion is a little crazy. The most common question his friends ask him is, “Is it real?”
He says it is, and promises he’s never faked a video. Sometimes he misunderstands countries. Mistaking the United States for Canada or the Czech Republic for Slovakia are two common gaffes of even the greatest players. And he acknowledged that he mostly just posted his highlights on social media and didn’t fiddle around occasionally.
How does he do that?
The key, of course, is practice. Rainbolt fell down the GeoGuessr rabbit hole during the pandemic, watching others live stream their game and poring over study guides compiled by geography lovers.
He said he spent four to five hours each day learning: playing GeoGuessr repeatedly in specific countries to get a feel for the terrain, and memorizing how landmarks like road markings and telephone poles differ from country to country .
“To be honest, I haven’t had a social life for the past year,” he said. “But it’s worth it because it’s so much fun and I love to learn.”
Some of the key features Rainbolt uses to distinguish one country from another are bollards that act as roadside barriers; telephone poles; License Plate; on which side of the road the cars drive; and floor color.
There are other clues if you know where to look. The quality of the image matters – Google filmed different countries with different camera generations – as does the color of the car used to record the terrain. For example, looking at a white car in South America means you’re in Peru, Bolivia or Chile, Rainbolt said.
Lukas Zircher, a 24-year-old from Innsbruck, Austria, became obsessed with GeoGuessr when he stumbled across one of Rainbolt’s Instagram posts. Zircher decided that he too wanted to be one of football’s greats.
“It’s hard to get good, really good,” said Zircher, who now devotes his free time to studying bollards and memorizing the color of South African soil. “I can see all the African countries in a few pictures, but I’m far from good – I miss all the Eastern European countries.”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
https://www.smh.com.au/technology/video-games/is-this-road-in-siberia-or-japan-expert-google-maps-players-can-tell-you-in-one-second-20220712-p5b0x3.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_world Is this road in Siberia or Japan? Experienced Google Maps players can tell you in 0.1 seconds