Year established: 2000
Users worldwide: Three Million!
Basic membership: Free
Premium membership: $29.99 per year or get a three month membership for $9.99 (perfect for the summer)
Materials needed: A GPS or a phone with GPS capability, internet access, small items to leave behind
Good to have: Heavy-duty garden gloves, flashlight, a friend to act as a lookout.
How do you play: Players sign up on the website, establish a username, and browse the website for Geocaches in their area. You can also download an app and use your phone to find geocaches. Players use GPS coordinates and clues to find a "cache". Once it is found, players log their find, and sometimes leave (and take) a small token. One of the challenges of the game is to get to the cache without non geocachers (known as muggles) noticing.
Pros: Promotes walking and is a great game if you have a dog. This is also a family activity that involves solving puzzles and is very exciting for kids. The race to be "first to find" can get very competitive. There are also events where geocachers meet up. This can be really fun as you may start to see usernames again and again. The meet ups are safe and it's fun to put a username with a real person.
Cons: Need a GPS or smartphone, sometimes frustrating as the puzzles can be challenging.
Year established: 2016
Users in USA: Estimated 21 million daily users
Cost: Free, but there are in app purchases for power ups and extra items.
Materials needed: An up to date smartphone
Good to have: A Pokemon Go Plus device. This is a device you wear like a wristwatch and will alert you when a Pokemon is within your range. If you are really into the game, this would help because you will run down your phone battery if you have the app running constantly.
How do you play: Players download the app and open it. The app will show a map of the area and where there are Pokemon nearby. Users collect Pokemon by "throwing" a Pokeball and catching the creature. Once you get to level 5, you can join teams (Blue, Red, or Yellow), which means you can battle people from other teams.
Pros: The game is easy to play, encourages walking, and feeds a nostalgia around Pokemon. When you get to them gym stage (level 5 and up), you may run into other people at the "gym". This could potentially be a fun way to meet people.
Cons: You need to use a smartphone, so people who are on a budget may be excluded. Users may stay glued to their cell phones so there may not be much interaction while playing. People are concerned that the "lure" function, may be potentially dangerous. The easiest was to sign up means you need to use your google account. There have been some concerns with privacy which an update apparently addressed.
I was really involved in Geocaching for a while. It was a fun way to spend time with my Mom (who has now passed). I have also tried Pokemon Go. It was easier to play and a lot of fun. But I think I prefer Geocaching. It is more social with geocaching events, fun "first to find" challenges, and sometimes even prizes. Have you tried either of these? Which game do you prefer? Let me know in the comments.