Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Keeping Geocaching a Fun Game

I’ve seen a lot going on in the game of Goecaching. I'll state my opinion here. While I feel it strongly, it should not be read as written in anger. The info below is not from anger. I am puzzled and dismayed that there are people who take a bad view of Geocaching. To that end, here is my view of keeping Geocaching a Fun Game.

Pushing the limits some is fine. Everyone has to play the game their own way. But at the end of the day you have to ask yourself do you feel right about what you did. Did you add to the fun for yourself and others?

At the base, it is a game. It is a game for fun. If you are playing it to have fun and to make sure you are at least not taking away from other people having the same level of fun, then you are doing it right.
If you are playing to annoy, bother, pester, make things harder for others, make others feel bad, do things to try to show you are above everyone, or things to show nobody can go lower, playing mind games, targeting people, flaunting guidelines just to see who will catch you, or worse doing things to intentionally libel, slander, or endanger others, then you are not playing the game of geocaching. You are playing with bad ideas that do not belong in Geocaching.

Almost none of us does Geocaching as a job. A few of us take on positions of responsibility in Geocaching, yet almost none of us get paid money for our time.

Many of us place caches, with our own time and money, to give to the community and grow it. Some of us put on events, including CITO event. This not only usually takes more time and sometimes more money, it also means being willing to put ourselves outside our comfort zone to speak in front of a group. From a game that has a geeky base, that means many of us are naturally somewhat asocial, so for most Geocachers, leading an event is a major stretch in courage.
Even the people who we count on to publish our caches do not get paid for the work they do. And they do a lot. We count on them checking the listing well enough that we hope it will keep us from some trouble. It is easy to get frustrated with them, and they must see that a lot. But they are not paid for the trouble they get. In fact, as a rule-of-thumb, they are morally obligated to not take part in as much of the game as a regular player: they would be expected not to go after FTFs, and would be questioned if they cheated on how they got coordinates for puzzle finals, especially tougher puzzles.

There are a few who make some money at Geocaching, selling containers, accessories, trackables, equipment, services, etc. But most people don't make much money at it, rarely enough to call a living or any significant profit. There are probably a few vendors and maybe a dozen or so at Groundspeak who make a living from Geocaching. Yet, from what I can see, many of those people do not seem to be happy or having fun.
The rest of the 1,000,000+ players do this as an open, supportive community.

I’ve occasionally done things that I feel did not add to the game. Like logging a cache I was involved with hiding (never as a FTF). I decided I would not do that anymore, as it didn’t feel to me like I was playing the game in a way that added to the fun for me or other players. My apologies to anyone who I’ve ever decreased their fun by doing things that were not in the best interest in the game. I hope there are not many cases of that I’d done, and hopefully most of them were unintentionally. And I hope I’ve more than made up for any by what I’ve given to the game. I hope most people can see how much I give to the game, and how much I want to be about growing the fun.

There are those in the game who get very caught up in the guidelines or their view of how caching should only be one specific type of caching. Sure, you should work towards your responsibility of upholding the guidelines, such as removing the accidental double found log. But that doesn’t mean you need to get angry or nasty for mistakes, or when you see people playing the game outside of the way you want to play. But if it isn’t seriously breaking the guidelines, is it worth letting it ruin your day, and is it really worth trying to ruin other people’s day? Over a game? Over a game so many of us Love? Sure, you can let other people know you’d like them to play in ways that make it more fun for you and others. But try to do it constructive, and where possible, with kindness and by example.

There are those who add to it, and remember to have fun with it, and make sure to provide others with opportunities for fun. This starts with making sure to leave a cache hidden as intended, not more uncovered so a muggle will find it, or covering it better because it is obvious that it isn't hidden as well as the cache owner wanted, but not intentionally trying to hide it more sneaky than the cache owner intended just to make it harder for the next cacher, and not moving it off zero just to trick the next cacher. Then there is giving back to the game by hiding caches, and coming up with interesting challenges. And giving more back by helping other players. And even more by running events, especially those that help outside the community to those we touch by running CITOs. All these people having fun and provide positively to the pursuit of the fun are the richest in the game. They are getting and giving the most value to the game.

Those who play the game to hurt the game and the players are thieves. They are trying to steal the fun by trying to break what we all put into the game. They are the poorest of the game. I feel sorry for them. They do not have a place in this game. If they want to play bad, find another place to play. Go into politics, become a bad boss at a sinking company, find a job where you can be paid to argue with people. But don’t bring that attitude to the playing field.

Does the way you play the game grow the fun? Can you help build the fun, so we can all be richer? I hope we can keep encouraging those who want to continue to grow Geocaching as a Fun Game, and those who take more fun than they add can find a different arena for their misspent energy.