Several orienteering simulation games are available on the Internet.
Some are good introductions to orienteering; one or two might be useful
for training when you can't get outside to the park.
For Apple Macintosh programs scroll down.
Orienteering Games for MS Windows
By far the most realistic simulation of a sporting event. This game reproduces a complete A-meet with day-1 and day-2 courses, other competitors, wildlife, great maps, and wet creek crossings. The scenery is detailed with good terrain, various water features, and all kinds of vegeation. This level of complexity requires a fast, new, computer and lots of disk space. The download is 17 megabytes.
This program has very good graphics in both full screen and windowed mode. There is not much variety in vegetation; every tree looks the same; no thickets, no bushes. The map is a bit sparse, but it has good-looking moss-covered rocks! It takes a long time to complete each leg. This is closer to real time, but I don't want to spent an hour in front of the computer to complete one course. This one has no sound. I could not find a replay option. Replaying your route enables you to learn from your mistakes.
A good overall program though less sophisticated. The
software controls are most intuitive, and therefore, make a good introduction to
those unfamiliar to orienteering. The demo version fits on one floppy disk, so
you can give it to those people who ask, "What the heck is orienteering?" The
map quality is not quite as good as the previous program. The program does allow
you to run through the scenery by holding down an arrow key. After a run, WinOL
will replay your route choices on the map. A good review, but very
Melin Software has two version of their game now. Their new simulation is called "Oriantica" and is very similar to "Catching Features". Both "Oriantica" and "Catching Features" can use OCAD maps to create simulations of real orienteering events. These programs are able to host competitions over the Internet.
This display is not your typical "windows" screen. Your
display is divided into a left half that displays terrain and a right half that
displays the map and compass. The trees are very dense; you cannot see more than
a few yards (I mean meters) in front of you. This one will challenge your
This is an older program that requires some setup before running under Windows-XP. Read the help file carefully and contact me if you have trouble.
This program presents a birds-eye-view of the runner as
your mouse pulls him through the park. The map is a bit sparse, since there are
no contours. There are fences and fights, stumps and streams, marshes and
meadows. The one window requires flipping back and forth from map to terrain to
clue sheet. This one-window view promotes map-memory skills. All functions are
mouse-controlled. This program is more game-like and the least able to simulate
Catching Features is a great game experience; but it requires a high performance computer. The new Oriantica is also quite impressive. WinOL is good fun, and it can be played on almost any machine. The small disk size means that you can carry around a copy and share it with your friends.
WinOL is my favorite. The electronic music is addictive. I enjoy being able to pass the disk around to friends who try orienteering for the first time. For a
challenge "Lost in the Forest" is the best. The thick trees will limit your
visual cues and require you to stay in constant contact with the map.
Try one for yourself.
Other programs with an orienteering theme
"Computer Orienteering" is not really a game, but a teaching aid to help
you learn about maps and compasses. The most game-like part of the program is
where you learn about route choice. Making a good route choice is crucial to
winning a competative orienteering event.
This program is sold through
is a simulation of radio orienteering that runs in your browser using Macromedia Flash Player 6.
In Radio Orienteering, the controls are not marked on the map; you have to find them with your radio tracker first. A small directional antenna is used to plot the control locations on a map, then the orienteer runs to that location to find the flag and punch. This program demonstrates how to plot the control locations using your antenna. After that it's just like normal orienteering.
IOF symbol quiz
http://www.fortnet.org/icd/ is an online quiz to help you learn the control description symbols.
Orienteering Games for Apple Macintosh
This is the same as the game listed
above, but for the Mac. The game works the same and looks the same on both
MapMemory is a flashcard memory game that
helps you learn map symbols. This program has upbeat music and a cheering
section to encourage the user. Well written and fun to play.