Mission: Explore puts the fun back into checking in

April 16, 2012 | Leave a comment

For the past few years, my friend Helen Steer has been working with the Geography Collective on Mission: Explore, a new way to promote exploration and curiosity:

Mission:Explore is a game, but not as you know it. There are two aims to the game. One is to collect points and unlock rewards. The other is to experience the world in new ways by doing vitally important random and warped challenges. The more missions you do the more rewards you’ll unlock and the more fun you’ll have during your stay on planet Earth.

Mission: Explore’s web application is an inventive take on the geo-gamification meme we’ve seen for years with the likes of Foursquare and Gowalla. Rather than checking in with brands and getting offers, participants are encouraged to travel 100 metres without being seen or put on a show for a security camera controller. And of course, they get rewards and an endorphin rush for doing so.

Because the site’s mostly aimed at kids, there’s less community or real-time interaction than there could be – what if one of the missions was to join up with six other people and solve a puzzle or make a shape? – but I love the humanity of the intention behind it. And the execution is great, although I find myself wondering what it could be with Geoloqi‘s geofencing.

Mission: Explore offers bespoke challenges for private groups, as well as a dead tree version. It’s all been done with a lot of love, and is great fun – to the extent that I wish more adult geo-apps would take a leaf from its book. If I had kids I’d be all over it.