Some animals mark their territory with bodily functions, but humans usually just use Instagram. A new app, however, makes a game out of letting people know where you’ve been.
Strut is a game of exploration where users around the world compete with each other to uncover a map of the earth. Utilizing the GPS tracking functionality of a player’s phone, it records each new location trod upon and unlocks "tiles" that very slowly uncover the globe. By using the app, not only can you easily see (and flaunt) where you’ve been, but leaderboards and earned medals challenge you to travel more.
Creator Dave Chau was inspired to make the app about a year ago while wandering around downtown Manhattan after a brunch, as one does.
"I found myself walking down a street I’d never walked down before," he says. "I usually try to take different routes when I can--seeing new and different sights gives me a different perspective on things, and visual variety is important to me as a graphic designer and artist. This particular day, a simple idea came to me: 'Wouldn’t it be cool if there was some way to know how much of the city I’ve actually been to?'"
Chau, an RISD grad working at Brooklyn-based digital agency Big Spaceship, brought up the idea to his software developer brother, Mike, who got on board immediately. An obsessive foodie and traveler, Mike frequently uses apps like Foursquare and Yelp, but he’d always wanted a better representation of the tracks he’d made around the world. The two brothers began looking for a way to make a physical simulacrum of the path travelers leave in their wake. The two found inspiration in an unlikely place.
"We remembered the excitement of uncovering maps as you explored the game worlds of old 8-bit video games like Metroid and the dungeons of The Legend of Zelda," Dave says. "We applied that same mechanic to the entire map of the planet."
Soon, both brothers found themselves hooked on uncovering tiles by going to places they’d never been, and once the app launched a few weeks ago, they soon found themselves in good company. The combined total opened-tile count quickly grew from 40,000 to over 3.2 million, with over 5,000 players using the app in more than 100 countries around the world.
As of April 12, the total worldwide tile count is only .024% opened, meaning that about 3 million tiles have been opened worldwide out of a possible total of 13 billion. There’s still a long way to go, but like the travels that this digital cartography represents, it’s more about the journey than the destination.