Verne: Himalayas is an educational geospatial experience by Google

Verne: Himalayas is an experimental game from Google that converts the mountain ranges into a playground.


Verne: Himalayas is an experimental game from Google that converts the mountain ranges into a playground. Users get to explore the Himalayas as a size changing Yeti. Normally, while running across the mountains or skating on frozen lakes, the Yeti is 500 feet tall. However, there are some specific situations when Verne shrinks down to normal human size, or at times even expands further to become a wandering giant above the earth. 

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Google made the game using geospatial data gathered from its Map based offerings. The game was made using the Unity game engine. It is a very simple game, with no collectibles, no points, no scoring system and no levels. There are no ads, and there are no in app purchases. The game is fun though, and invites you to play just to find out all the secrets scattered around the map.

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There are drums, horns, baloons, umbrellas, tents, campfires, goats and much more to find hidden in some corner of the map. Many of these objects are interactive, you can blow on the horn, beat the drum or light a campfire and spend a cold night warming your hands.

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There are loudspeakers mounted on poles, which give information on the local geography and history as and when people get close. Certain points of interest, including monasteries, mountain peaks and lakes are marked with their names.

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There are photos scattered around the map, that show important places, such as the Hillary Step near Mount Everest. Some of the photos are 360 degree panoramas of the spot, there is one at the Everest base camp. When jumping into these panoramas, Verne shrinks in size.

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There is no way to completely leave the map. If Verne explores out of the Himalayan region, he grows larger, and the whole world opens up. This hints at the possibility that 3D exploration along with local photos and artifacts are coming to more locations. Countries are shown with their names and flags. There are speech bubbles that say hello in the language of that country when popped. There are balloons scattered around that can be used to quickly travel across the world.

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This is an innovative way of incorporating geospatial data into an educational game. The 500 foot tall Yeti gives a new perspective of the mountains, an appreciation of the terrain which would take months to walk across. This is the second game related to Google in some way that uses real world locations and the data generated by maps. Another recent game that uses geospatial data in an innovative way is Pokémon Go. Google also recently launched the educational Expeditions app that allows teachers to take their students to virtual field trips in diverse locations around the world. The game is free, and only available on the Play Store.


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