I like playing games and I especially like winning the games I play. My newest and favorite game (which my family calls an addiction) is geocaching because it tests many of my skills — planning, persistence, endurance, attention to detail and data gathering. It’s a total mental and physical game experience. Other players call geocaching a sport, hobby, game or past-time. All descriptors accurately define this world-wide phenomenon, but when the scope is this broad, how do you win the game?
There are few rules for how to play and no guidelines for how to win. The player rules are simple:
- If you take something from the cache, leave something of equal or greater value.
- Log your find in the cache logbook.
- Log your experience on the geocaching website.
So, I know how to play the game, but don’t know how to win. I noticed players establish their own goals. For some it’s collecting or hiding caches, for others it’s visiting many sites and locations, for another it’s participating in organized caching competitions. The measurements players use to gauge their game success is endless. The only constant is logging finds. I haven’t established my personal goal, but there’s something addictive about logging a new find and adding another smiley face to your profile in route to some virtual trophy. When I log a find, the website awards me another smiley and updates my geocache stats like this:
This banner updates each time I log a new find. Today, it reads Found: 13 / Hidden: 0, but that number will change weekly for as long as I play the game. After playing for three weeks, I learned I like the journey, search, discovery and find! I’m slowly learning how to play, but I still don’t know how to win. Maybe it’s simpler than winning or losing. In fact, maybe geocaching is like life. You win by playing the game.