LOS ANGELES - People being stumped by simple geography is a comedic theme commonly seen all over the internet. It usually involves an interviewer asking someone if they can point out the capital of the U.S., or even something as simple as China on a map without labels.
The person fails to locate the obvious and everyone has a laugh at their expense.
One such video, which aired on Jimmy Kimmel’s talk show, garnered nearly 11 million views. It shows people failing to name even a single nation in the nondescript map. One man even confuses the continent of Africa for being a country.
For those of you who watched the segment with existential rage and confusion, there is an online game in which you can practice your geographic skills, and in appropriate internet-fashion, there are people who are experts in this field.
Take 23-year-old Trevor Rainbolt, for example — a TikTok-famous geography genius who wows the internet with his ability to accurately guess specific locations on Google maps in seconds, usually only being a few miles off.
Mind you, the images that he guesses are beyond obscure, and the content he uploads showcasing his talents continue to amaze millions of viewers who flock to his social media pages to be reminded of the importance of geography knowledge.
Rainbolt’s skill may seem almost unattainable but he says even he has barely scratched the surface of what’s possible when it comes to geo-guessing.
"This game is never ending learning," Rainbolt said. "I spent the last 12 months learning the game but I literally have so much more the learn that it just drives me to continue to be better. It’s a great game,"
What is GeoGuessr?
GeoGuessr is an internet guessing game available to anyone in which a player is shown an image from Google’s Street View. Players then attempt to deduce the exact part of the world they’re looking at based on the image.
The game has exploded in popularity since the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced millions of people to stay at home and find some hobby to occupy their time.
"The game puts the user on any random Google Street View location and the goal is to find where you are in the world," Rainbolt explains. "So you can be put in Kansas or you can be put in Indonesia and you just have to figure out where you are based on surrounding context clues."
As the game became more and more popular, a community of geography wizards arrived to take it a tad more serious than the average player.
This includes Rainbolt, who’s awe-inspiring TikTok account named "Georainbolt," has amassed 17.1 million likes as of June 21.
Not only is he able to identify the most vague locations on the planet, he has a system to do it.
Regional geography on steroids
At first glance, Rainbolt may seem to be merely guessing his locations. But in an interview with FOX TV Stations, he said there’s a lot more to it.
Observing the design of license plates, road signs that are only found in certain parts of the world, even noticing the position of the sun in the photograph to deduce the exact hemisphere he’s located in, are all part of his process that make it look way more scientific than instinct.
In one video, Rainbolt is able to accurately pick a location blindfolded while another person describes what they’re looking at in the image.
There is no region that Rainbolt hasn’t conquered and the social media star continues to push himself in ways no one expected or even asked for.
Upon receiving one comment from another TikTok user saying "bro really finished Earth," the geography wizard decided to take his talents to an interstellar level.
In May, Rainbolt uploaded videos of himself correctly guessing locations on the planet Mars and the moon.
One user asked how long it took him to memorize the geography or Mars, to which Rainbolt answered "like 2 days."
"Bro will never get lost," wrote another user.
"I barely know my neighborhood," joked one TikTok user.
What is this sorcery?
Rainbolt’s talents are so amazing they’re almost unbelieveable. But he says anyone with the willingness and passion to learn can become a geography whiz like him.
Rainbolt said he first got into the game as a way to pass time and eventually took it more seriously as he got better. After seeing the game increasing in popularity, Rainbolt says he has dedicated every ounce of free time to learning the ins and outs of every country. He spends hours with other groups of geography geniuses learning nuanced details about each country.
Rainbolt never studied geography but since he’s played the game, he says it gives him an appetite to learn more and more.
So what’s the greatest payoff? Rainbolt says hearing his fans be inspired by his work is the greatest gift that has come from playing the game.
"It’s such a privilege to play this game and learn about different cultures," he said.
He added that he will start to introduce a new challenge in which after he guesses a location on Earth he will actually go to the physical location. His next stop: Redcliff, Colorado; population: 318.
"I think it’s a great way to see a part of the world that I normally wouldn’t," he added.