Using Google Earth to play Venatu

Venatu is a new online game that combines clues and internet research with real-world legwork. They offer substantial rewards if you are able to find “The Artifact” for each round, which is always found somewhere in the continental United States (at least for now).


While Google Earth isn’t directly used in gameplay, they recommend that users take advantage of the tools available in GE to help track down the artifacts. I can see the value in that, as at times you’ll need to do things like “draw a 9 mile circle around every Taco Bell in Georgia” or similar tasks that would be made much easier with the tools available inside of Google Earth.
The game has only been going for a few weeks, but they’ve already attracted nearly 900 people to their Facebook Group and it seems to be picking up steam. I worry that the expansive nature of the game may be a turn-off to some (the odds of the prize being within a reasonable drive of your home are quite low), but some online teamwork could make it quite fun. In fact, they recommend that very thing on their Teams page.
It’ll be interesting to see how the game develops, but it’s certainly an interesting idea. Have any of you tried it yet?

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.


  1. I learned about it after reading this article. Game 2 had just started, so I studied the clues. After the 13th clue, which was released at 11pm my time, my wife and I had the location narrowed down to three spots along a half mile of road. It was only 150 miles away. In the morning, groggy from a 1am bedtime, I padded around, drank coffee, and finally decided to go. Checking the computer before hitting the road, there were signs of victory from another team, and the prize was found at 11am. Dang! If I’d left at 4am I could have been there at first light at 7am. Of our three possible locations, the prize was about 20 feet from the first one.
    Game 3’s prize was way too far away, but it gave my wife and I a chance to “meet” other players online and establish a team.
    I drove 600 miles to New Mexico to claim the prize for game 4, hopefully the first of many.

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