Ok, “game” might be pushing the term a little bit but it’s still good fun. Much like other location based social services like Brightkite and Foursquare, Gowalla allows you to “check in” to locations in the real world to update your profile on the website and on the iPhone app.
What makes Gowalla a little different is that it’s been created by Alamofire, the people behind the moderately addictive Facebook card collecting and trading (stealing) game, Packrat.
Simply, as you check into places in the physical world (using GPS — no cheating here!) you might find that someone who has checked in before you has dropped a virtual item and, if you want it, trade it for an item in your possession. Trading, checking into locations and other actions offer rewards in the shape of virtual pins, much like your Xbox or PS3 achievements.
So, what’s it got that’s better than Foursquare, the current fore-runner in this area? Well, for starters you can play it anywhere — Foursquare is limited to a few cities, mostly in the US. Secondly, Trips. Checking into a series of locations such as a series of iconic locations in Central Park, or Frank Lloyd Wrights buildings in Chicago unlock bonus pins. These are limited at the moment but there’s promise of more.
Finally, it features a lovely user interface and exquisite collectable pins, stamps and location badges illustrated by Brian Brasher and David Lanham.
Oh, and did I mention that it’s free? What are you waiting for? Get collecting!
Gowalla Free (iTunes App Store link)