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Portland duo creates ‘Bike Tag’ website to spread popular game

Posted by on May 6th, 2020 at 1:57 pm

A few recent “tags” uploaded to BikeTag.org.

A fun game that encourages people to get out and ride bikes might help cure your cooped-up coronavirus blues. And two Portlanders are leading the charge to introduce it to more players.

Bike Tag is a simple game where one person (who’s “it”) posts an image of their bike at a mystery location. Then another player must find the location, bike there, and take a picture of their own bike in the same spot. The player then rides to a new location, takes a photo and uploads both photos (the location they found, and the new one) to a website and the fun starts all over again.

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One player uploads mystery location (left), another player uploads proof they found it.

“I liked the idea of using the game to inspire me to ride somewhere I hadn’t before.”
— Evan White, BikeTag.org

Bike Tag started in 2013 in Austin, Texas where’s it’s played on a cycling-related section of news aggregation and discussion platform Reddit. The game was copied and spread to Denver, Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Portland.

Portlander Evan White found out about it in 2018 and was instantly hooked. “I liked it because it was a recreational activity game that tied together bikes and smartphones.” White shared with me in an email recently. “I liked the idea of using the game to inspire me to ride somewhere I hadn’t before.”

White played with other Portlanders and once he turned his friend Ken Eucker onto it, the two put their heads together and decided to take it to the next level. Eucker and White are tech-savvy and they wanted to create a website where people could play the game outside of Reddit (which requires an account) or other platforms.

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“I thought that a website could accomplish playing the game in a more simple and accessible way, I wanted to see how it could grow given a dedicated platform,” said White.

Screenshot of upload screen.

So he and Eucker created BikeTag.org in spring of 2018. They’ve developed code that syncs the site with the cycling subreddits (a section of Reddit) in five other cities so that everyone can play as normal and all tags are kept up to date.

Two years ago there were only 30 tags in Portland; now there are 170 (Austin’s version has over 900 tags, by comparison).

“Now, with social activities being somewhat stunted,” Eucker shared, “we find the game even more relevant! It’s a game that you can play at any time and you can do entirely on your own, or with your housemates.”

Eucker says he and White hope to expand the site to include a map of GPS-tagged locations and perhaps a leaderboard for players with the most “tags”.

The code for the Bike Tag website is free and open source. Learn more about this project on their About page. Also follow @PDXBikeTag on Instagram to see featured tags and use the #PDXBikeTag hashtag on your posts to share your cool locations and keep the fun going.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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rain panther

Does it seem like whoever’s doing the searching should be “it”? You know, so if you found the location and presented your photo evidence, you’d say “Tag, you’re it.”

Jim Labbe
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Jim Labbe

Nice shot of the Kerr Family mausoleum in Lone Fir Cemetery!