Gowalla.com is a location game that you can play on internet-enabled mobile devices. At its most basic, it involves visiting places and sharing them with your friends, but there’s a lot more to it than that. There are many different ways of using Gowalla, and i don’t think everybody knows about them all. So i thought i’d share what i’ve found out so far.
Add your friends – Gowalla is much more fun when shared with your friends. There are tools on the site to help you find your friends from Facebook, Twitter and email.
Discover nearby spots – Turn on your GPS, open the application on your mobile device and see what’s nearby. You’re likely to find a few places that catch your attention; some you know about and some that are new to you. You can also discover places on the site.
When you’re visiting a new place, Gowalla is an excellent way to discover nearby attractions and places to eat. You can read reviews left by other people to help decide where you want to go.
Check in to spots – When you are near to a spot registered on Gowalla you will be able to check in from your mobile device. There are many reasons for doing this. You can earn pins. You can pick up and drop items. You can take a photo of the spot. You can make a comment recommending the spot to your friends and other visitors.
Create a spot – If a place you like is not yet on gowalla, create it right there from your mobile device! It’s easy. You choose the title, description and category.
It’s always a good idea to check it on the website later in case your GPS wasn’t quite accurate, you can move the pin to exactly the right place. On the website you can also choose the size of the spot, which determines the check in radius.
Use Gowalla to socialise – when you check in you can cross-post a message Twitter and Facebook to encourage your friends to join you. If you’re doing this i recommend you add a comment about what you’re doing there, otherwise it can get tedious for those who don’t play. See the difference a comment makes:
This is what happens when you post to twitter without a comment:
The only reaction your twitter friends are likely to have to this is, “So what?” or “Who cares?”
It is a good idea to cross-post when you have something meaningful to say, or when you add a photo, but i don’t advise you cross-post every check in.
Earn pins – there are all sorts of pins you can collect as rewards for playing the game. Easy pins to collect are ‘Wanderer’ for checking into 5 spots and ‘Instamatic Film’ for uploading a photo. You can get pins for creating spots, founding spots and going on trips.
Trade items – when you start Gowalla you’ll get 5 items to play with. You’ll sometimes get awarded items when you check in to spots too. There are lots of things to do with items …
- Carry them – you can only carry 10 items at a time so before long you’ll need to do something else with them.
- Collect them – there are over 100 types of items to find. You can save one of every type to your collection (also known as vault). Each item has an issue number but it doesn’t really mean anything. There is nothing particularly special about collecting items with low numbers, unless you want it to mean something special for you personally.
- Swap them – when you are checked into a spot you can swap any items there for items you are carrying. You cannot pick up an item without leaving one.
- Become a Founder – you can drop an item without picking one up to become a Founder of that spot. A Founder is not the same as the creator. Each spot can only have 10 Founders so there is a certain credibility to becoming a Founder. It also encourages people to leave items for other people to swap.
Go on a trip – on your device you can see nearby trips that people have created. Trips are groups of 3 or more spots. They probably have a theme. Trips might be a pub crawl, tourist attractions, football stadiums, etc. When you’ve checked in to all the spots listed in the trip, you’ll earn a pin. I think you always get a pin for completing a trip, but i’m not completely sure.
Create your own trip – having found a few spots you like, it’s easy to make a trip to encourage other people to visit them too. This is something you have to do on the website. Search for the place, open its page and click ‘Add to Trip’. There you can create a new trip or add it to an existing trip.
Once your trip has at least 3 spots, you can publish it and share it with your friends. Be aware that as soon as somebody has completed your trip, you will no longer be able to edit or delete it. So be sure you’ve included all the spots you want before you publish your trip.
Apply common sense to privacy and safety – Gowalla encourages you to check in only to public places where there are other people around. It is not advisable to add your home to Gowalla, though a few people do. If privacy is a concern to you, there is an option to share your check in details only with your friends.
So what are you waiting for – Go out, go discover, go share, Gowalla!