When I first starting turfing back in January 2021 there was around 800 turfers active in Scotland, today, two years later, that number has fallen to less than 300. Globally, we see a similar trend with numbers at that time around 9200. Today we have less than 5000 turfers. This is a huge fall in numbers over two years. One wonders just what problem or problems are causing this decline.
After two years turfing myself, I can see various reasons why others might also leave the game. Having reached Rank 50, the gaps between ranks are enormous and the points required for future ranks are even greater. I’ve also exhausted most of the easily achievable medals on offer. Effectively I’m just taking zones and gathering points with little reward to keep me interested. I can say for certain that if I didn’t have the Planet Gary blog, and enjoy cycling, kick scooting, making videos and photography, I too would have stopped playing turf.
So, what is the answer to this problem? How do we keep turfers out there turfing? Would more new zones help? Perhaps more medals would keep turfers interested for longer, medals like the Daily Five? Is marketing and advertising the answer? Or is there a fundamental problem withing the game of turf that results in these losses and it’s simply unavoidable? There’s also that other question we can ask. Does it really matter?
Anyway, I’m still turfing and have been trying hard to think of reasons why the game does not retain members. I started off wondering what is exciting about turfing and are we loosing turfers when that sense of excitement is lost? It’s exciting taking your first few zones, getting that first 10,000 points, gaining those first few medals and rising up the ranks. However, as you progress these moments of excitement become fewer and further between as the degree of difficulty increases. Is this loss of excitement a factor behind the decline in turfer numbers?
I think I’m probably not alone when I say taking new zones is exciting. Whenever a new zone appears in my local area I simply have to rush out and take it. Often being disappointed when I’m not the first. Of course, there are always new zones somewhere I haven’t taken but this means travel further afield which does not suit everyone. Personally, I’m trying not to use cars or public transport, trying to keep to walking, cycling or kick scooting and do my little bit to reduce global warming. This makes hunting down new zones or unique zones further from home all the more challenging.
At risk of upsetting some turfers, I think flying abroad to take zones is not the way to go. I’ve had some contact with one turfer who is almost fanatical about doing her best to reduce global warming, for example, recycling, selling her car, using the bus and so on. Yet she is happy to take the train to London or fly abroad to go turfing. Each to their own, I suppose.
Sorry, got somewhat off track there. Back to the topic of excitement. I’ve noticed these past few months when I’m taking my local zones, for the umpteenth time, that I barely notice I’m doing so. I don’t even look at the app as I know exactly where the zones are. I hear the nice lady inside the phone say taking zone, and a few seconds later, zone taken. I’m on automatic pilot, just plodding along or cycling or kick scooting from zone to zone. Often wondering what’s the point of it all? Okay, I’m always gathering some of the zillion points needed towards the next rank and getting some good outdoor exercise. Yet inside, it does next to nothing for me.
This is one of the reasons why I created my own unofficial turfing medals, an attempt to bring back some excitement and challenge to the game. Here’s a few examples:
- Fairy Tinkerbell – take one each zone values, 185p/+1, 170p/+2, etc.
- Ghost Buster – complete a Ghost Minute at 10 different holy zones.
- Holy Grail – take 20 different zones with the Holy Zone attribute.
- Night Owl – taking 100 zones between midnight and 4:00 am.
- Seven Hills Midlothian – take the seven highest zones In Midlothian.
- Station Master – take 10 different zones with the Train Station attribute.
- The Grand Turf – turfing by car but not leaving the vehicle.
- Trainspotter – take 5 different zones with the Train Station attribute.
- Turfoween – take 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 zones during Halloween.
For those of you who have attained the Ghost Minute medal, or achieved the elusive Eager Ferret, or even that hard-won Darkest Ninja medal, do you recall the thrill you experienced at the time. I think those moments of excitement, achievement and fun are aspects of the game what keeps people turfing. Perhaps we need more of the same.
There was one idea I came up with some time ago and that was blue zones. A blue zone is a transient zone, one that takes over an existing zone at random and vanishes after a few days. It would have a whopping big points value, say 1000 points. If, say, 10% of zones were active blue zones it would certainly add some excitement to the game. Imagine you are out turfing. You see a blue zone on your mobile and want those points, but don’t know how long it will be there for. You make a mad dash for it, hoping it will not vanish before your very eyes. Of course, you see other turfers all doing the same, rushing towards the blue zone. All good fun! Perhaps a blue zone medal as well?
This is PlanetGary reporting for Planet Gary from a zone somewhere in Midlothian, running on automatic pilot, my toes and fingers are cold, I’ve just run over a Richard the Third and I’m in need of some excitement.
Copyright ©2023 Gary Buckham. All rights reserved.