PDD Geoguessr Challenge #8: Midnight Mass in the Twin Ports

Cropped photo of a Christmas Eve service by Patrick Sweeney CC BY-SA 2.0

As this Sunday Geoguessr challenge is appearing on Christmas Eve, a topical theme seemed appropriate. I thought finding five local churches with midnight services would be a rather simple map to put together. It was not.

Some local churches do not have the same integrated event calendar functions as Perfect Duluth Day and finding out what, if anything, was happening on Christmas Eve was not always the most straightforward task. I don’t mention that as a criticism of the churches featured in this Geoguessr challenge, as all of their websites announce a service somewhere near midnight on Christmas Eve and give some indication of that announcement being from this year. That being said, I would strongly advice not using this challenge for planning purposes and checking for yourself before heading out of the house. I would hate to see in the comments that I ruined someone’s Christmas when they showed up at a dark, empty church at midnight (and even if the locations are correct, most of the churches in the challenge start their services before midnight).

I also had a difficult time finding five locations because I thought midnight mass was exclusive to Catholics. But as Wikipedia informed me, while other religious groups don’t necessarily use the term mass, many have services at or around midnight on Christmas Eve. This includes Lutherans, Anglicans, Presbyterians and Methodists. This challenge includes churches from several of these traditions. While not listed as a midnight mass denomination in the Wikipedia article, St. Andrew’s by the Lake Episcopal Church has an 11 p.m. Christmas Eve service clearly listed on its website.

St.Andrew’s does not, however, have a Photosphere on Google maps, and this challenge consists entirely of Photospheres. This is for two reasons: (1) Streetview images would be too easy. (2) Duluth’s Streetview images were taken in the summer and I wanted at least a little snow somewhere in the challenge. Because you only have a single 360-degree image to examine, the time limit for this game is set at three minutes per round.

PDD Geoguessr Challenge #8: Midnight Mass in the Twin Ports

How to Play Geoguessr

GeoGuessr can be played on a laptop or desktop and on Android or IoS mobile devices with the GeoGuessr app. Just click on the link that fits how you play and create an account to start playing.

Every game consists of five locations based on a theme chosen by the game creator. You are shown a Streetview image stripped of all the informational labels that are normally overlayed onto the image. Unless the challenge specifically restricts it, you can move around and look for clues like street signs and business names to find out where you are. The image below shows a basic overview of the Geoguessr screen layout and controls.

Once you think you know the location — or are nearly out of time — you use the inset map to place your marker where you believe the round started. After you hit “Guess,” you will see how close you were to the correct location and how many points your guess earned. The closer you are to the location, the higher your score, with a maximum score of 5,000 points. On a map that covers a small area, like the Gary-New Duluth neighborhood, being off by a few blocks will cost you a lot of points. On a map that has locations from around the world, you will get nearly all the points just for finding the right city. The maximum error for a perfect score also changes by map size, but in general if you are within 50 feet (15 meters) you will always get the full 5,000 points.

Not often, but every now and then, GeoGuessr gets a little buggy. If the underlying Streetview imagery has changed since the game was made, sometimes it repeats the last round, gives a black screen, or doesn’t allow a guess to be made. If that happens, please let me know and I’ll update the challenge.

At the end of the five rounds, an overview screen shows your score for each round in addition to your guessing time and how far off you were from the correct location. The correct locations and your guesses are also shown on a map and you can click on any of the round numbers to review the locations. Additionally, the final screen in a challenge will show how you rank compared to the top scorers of the challenge. When choosing your user name, keep in mind that your user name and score per round will be visible to other players of the challenge.

If you have feedback on this challenge or ideas for future challenges, please share them in the comments below.

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