Turf and Reward

Turf zone – TheSouthPath

Turf, the game where dedicated enthusiasts wander around town and country, mobile phone in hand, searching out virtual zones, which they then take and gain a few points, all aided for free by billions of credits worth of outer-space GPS hardware. Then repeat, again and again and again.

The strange beings who play Turf, normally called turfers, not only do this strange activity during fine weather and the daylight hours, but many will also venture out into the darkness of the night, braving the worst of Jack Frost, the lazy Arctic winds, the hard ice, the falling snow, the driving rain, all in the pursuit of a few points more. Some fall to these hazards, pulled muscles, pedal scraped shins and staved fingers, are common, not to mention the wear and tear on nether regions. Yet onwards they continue, the lure of points always at the forefront of their minds.

I’ve only been playing turf for a few months, yet I too can see how this simplest of activities can grip you. I make plans for the weekend, hoping my partner will be out playing golf and I’ll have a free-pass to do whatever I like for the day, usually playing Turf and searching out areas where I can take unique zones, those I’ve not visited before, all to gain another virtual medal. I find myself waking at Silly O’clock, and heading out on the bicycle, or kick scooter, to retake zones lost to other turfers during the working day or gain another medal. Just what is it that entices us to do this?

Perhaps it’s all down to the rewards you get from playing the game. Turf has been very cleverly designed to always offer something for your efforts. As a newbie, a beginner, you rapidly find yourself rising up the ranks as you gather points, medals come soon after, each a reward encouraging you to continue and seek more reward. Of course, the higher you rise the harder those points and medals are to gain. And for some it’s all about winning the game.

On the topic of winning. Looking at the vast number of points required to win a round, you would imagine turfers would not bother and simply give up. To win a round of Turf, you need a huge number of points, anything from 500,000 to 1,000,000 and then some. Yet some turfers manage to do this, accruing this mind-boggling score in 4 or 5 weeks. To be honest, some live and breathe only Turf, and are able to spend each and every day out turfing. Others must make do with the nights, slipping out of bed at midnight to pedal the street alone in search of zones. Yet even though our own circumstances prevent this, we still continue, perhaps dreaming of the day we hold that elusive gold, silver or bronze medal.

Then there’s the zones themselves. They can be found almost anywhere, from remote mountain tops to the sandy beaches of the coast, and also beyond. Yes, some are even located in the sea, requiring you to wade or swim, at the very least to get wet. Other zones are a places you would never think of visiting, perhaps a tiny patch of grass in a forgotten corner of a housing estate complete with the burnt out wreck of a stolen car or a secret hidden lane behind a row of derelict factory buildings.

Some zones are in areas where normally people stay clear off at certain times of the day. I’m taking about after dark here, when the night-shift come out and conduct their nefarious business opportunities. Yet, I’ll happily grab an expensive bicycle, carry a hundred notes or three worth of mobile phone, camera and other digital paraphernalia and explore these areas in search of the elusive zones I’d fail to take on a previous day-time visit. Sometimes giving a passing nod to the dealers pedalling their mind-altering concoctions, the weirdos creeping in the bushes and those struggling to find their way home after imbibing too much of the amber nectar. I would not have done this before I discovered Turf.

Is Turf perhaps playing to our basic instincts, always to seek something more, more points, more medals, more rewards. Or is it using our desire to seek something new, to see what’s just around the next corner – usually another zone with low points and high points per hour – harking back to the early days when the next valley was something unknown, strange and exotic. There is something exciting about discovering a new zone for the first time, even the most mundane, and then there’s the zones that amaze us, a sculpture of a giant mussel shell or the Kelpies – two giant steel horse head’s rising from the water, each a sight to behold and remember.

There is also another reward we get from playing Turf, the rewards that exercise offer us. When walking, running, kick scooting or cycling, physical exercise is good for us in so many different ways. It’s been shown to improve your mood, decrease feelings of depression, anxiety and stress. A whole range of beneficial chemicals are produced during exercise. The hormones serotonin and norepinephrine relieve feelings of depression and endorphins just plain make you feel good.

Personally, I just love riding my bicycle or using the kick scooter to play Turf. There’s something magical about powering along under your own steam, the wind in your hair, your leg muscles pumping away for hours on end, the flies getting in your eyes, the dogs rushing up to you to say hello and the joys of wheel-locked hard-breaking to avoid crashing into some idiot listening to music at full volume.

There are many other rewards for playing Turf. One is that it gets you out of the house, away from the hustle of noisy children, away from Scratchy the cat, away from Chewy the dog, and even away from Houdini the escape-artists hamster. Turf also gives you a sense of achievement, every rank you achieve, every medal you are awarded, even the meagre points from a single zone revisit, are all rewards. Turf can also give you a sense of purpose, simply having something to do can make all the difference when things are not looking so bright, especially in these Covid-19 interesting times.

Yes, rewards. Just about everything in Turf is about rewards of one form or another. Be it points, be it medals, or simply having fun and feeling good about yourself. Even having a zone suggestion approved is no small thing. Long may it continue.

Copyright ©2021 Gary Buckham. All rights reserved.

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