Watch these guys speedrun planet earth

Audio player loading…

If you were unexpectedly teleported to a road in South Africa mid-blink, how long after opening your eyes would it take you to figure out that you were in South Africa? For GeoGuessr speedrunner Havrd, the answer is a little under seven seconds. By then, I probably would have just started to establish that I was on planet earth.

GeoGuessr (opens in new tab) is a web game that drops players into a random Google Street View location and challenges them to figure out where in the world they are. It's fun to play cooperatively with friends, partially for the laughs that come from realizing a first impression was completely wrong, and you're nowhere near Paraguay. For Havrd, though, being wrong isn't even part of the game. It's just a matter of how quickly he can guess correctly.

At last year's AGDQ (opens in new tab) speedrunning event, Havrd pulled off a "slow" GeoGuessr perfect score run in 31 minutes and 31 seconds. To get that perfect score, he had to pinpoint the locations of five Street View panoramas within just under 600 feet on an overhead map.

At this year's AGDQ, Havrd built on the act by adding a second player, Janmumrik, who's been playing the game with Havrd for years. For each location, one player "drove" around in Google Street View describing what they saw while the other looked at the overhead map and, when ready, dropped a pin where they believed the other had started.

The duo finished their co-op perfect score run in 40 minutes and 19.8 seconds, again guessing all five locations within 600 feet.

To avoid anomalies caused by Street View updates, GeoGuessr speedruns are played on 'maps' that limit the regions within which players can be teleported. This year and last year, Harvrd and Janmumrik played on A Diverse World (opens in new tab), which includes "more than 52,000 hand-picked pinpointable locations" from every country covered by Google Street View.

I love these GeoGuessr runs for observations like "luckily, Denmark has one of the best road naming systems in the world" and "the sun is in the north, so we are in the southern hemisphere." It's like watching Sherlock Holmes solve a case if, instead of an eye for personal habits, he mostly had a knack for decoding highway signs and identifying dirt. 

It's oddly stressful, too, especially in the co-op format Havrd and Janmumrik introduced this year, though maybe that's just me being reminded of my grandparents fighting over directions on roads somewhere along the Ottawa River. (If you ever encounter a river that seems distinctly more French on its northern shore than its southern shore, that's probably where you are.)

You can watch the run on Twitch (opens in new tab), and it's embedded above (it should skip to the start of the run, nearly 15 hours in). AGDQ 2022 is running through Saturday. Personally, I'm looking forward to the Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes run on Thursday. Here's the schedule (opens in new tab).

Tyler Wilde
Executive Editor

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley during the rise of personal computers, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on the early PCs his parents brought home. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, Bushido Blade (yeah, he had Bleem!), and all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now. In 2006, Tyler wrote his first professional review of a videogame: Super Dragon Ball Z for the PS2. He thought it was OK. In 2011, he joined PC Gamer, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. His hobbies include amateur boxing and adding to his 1,200-plus hours in Rocket League.