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MapCrunch is a website that allows users to be virtually transported to a randomly selected Google Street View location. It has inspired a participatory web game in which the player must find their way to an airport from a spawned location.
Google Street View is a service that features photographs of various locations around the world that are taken by a fleet of cars with mounted panoramic cameras. In available locations, Google Maps and Google Earth users can select a specific street location to view it as if they were in a vehicle on the road. The service was launched on May 25th, 2007 and the coverage area was initially limited to street views from select cities within the United States.
The website MapCrunch was launched on September 25th, 2010. The @MapCrunch Twitter account was created on September 26th, 2010 and accumulated over 1,800 followers within 17 months. On October 23rd, 2010, a link to the site was submitted to the /r/technology subreddit by user balotz, who claimed that the site was his creation. The post received 811 up votes prior to being archived.
On October 26th, 2010, TechCrunch published an article about the site, comparing it to a combination of Chatroulette and Google Street View. On November 3rd, an article about the site was published to the tech blog Download Squad which lauded the site’s ability to discover interesting places that had been photographed by Google Street View. As of February 20th, 2012, the official MapCrunch Facebook page has accumulated 4,573 likes.
The MapCrunch game requires that players pretend to have woken in an unknown place and must find their way home again by coming across an airport. Due to the fact that the initial location chosen is random, the game has proven to be notoriously frustrating and time consuming.
The game saw a surge in popularity from Tumblr when players began writing about their experiences and uploading pictures from their searches. The site’s popularity on Tumblr started with a post by Tumblr user Epochayur on the 18th February 2012, in which he invited Tumblr users to play the game and described the rules. As of 22 February 2012, the post has over 53,000 notes on Tumblr .On February 19th, 2012, the MapCrunch site had to switch servers due to a massive influx of referral traffic coming from Tumblr.
Sorry if the site is slow. Server is getting killed by Tumblr.
— MapCrunch (@mapcrunch) February 19, 2012
The /r/mapcrunch subreddit dedicated to the game was created on February 20th, 2012.
In addition to teleporting users to a randomly selected Google Street View location, the service also includes a gallery with some of the more interesting locations found by the community. Users can also share these locations with others with a unique MapCrunch URL.
Google Street View photos that have been discovered using the services can be added to the site’s gallery and the more bizarre images are often shared on sites like Reddit, 4chan and Tumblr.
Search query volume for “mapcrunch” had a large spike in November of 2010, following the blog coverage a month prior.