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

CatchingFeatures "Catching Features" from

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.

WinOrient "WinOrient" from

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.

O flag "WinOL" from Melin Software

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 embarrassing.

O flag "Oriantica" from Melin Software

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.

O-flag.gif "Lost in the Forest" from

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 navigation skills.
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.

O-flag "Orienteering at Home" from

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 real orienteering.

Personal views:

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.

Kevin Haywood

Other programs with an orienteering theme

O-flag.gif Sunnto's "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 various retailers.
Forestry Suppliers

O-flag.gif RASOR 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.

O-flag.gif IOF symbol quiz is an online quiz to help you learn the control description symbols.

Orienteering Games for Apple Macintosh

control flag "Orienteering at Home" from

This is the same as the game listed above, but for the Mac. The game works the same and looks the same on both computers.

O-flag.gifMapMemory from

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.