9 June 2021

So, you want to setup a Scavenger Hunt?
Starting Point Sydney CISY01

To setup a Scavenger Hunt or other Urban Hunt game, you’ll need to think about some of these steps:

The Global Game

1. Who are you making this for and what is the outcome you want? A group of teenagers will need a far more aggressive and active game than a group of 8-year-olds at a Barbie Party! Think also about the complexity of the questions and what information you’ll need to give to enable answers in a reasonable time-frame. If you’re a keen fan of Cryptic clues, make sure that your intended players are as well.

2. Where is the location for this game? It can be in a backyard or park, across city streets, at a beach or in a nightclub. Each location will require a different focus on how to manage the delivery of information to your players and what obstacles they’ll need to overcome to get answers.

3. What time do you expect the game to take? Games that go on too long are a sure way to lose the enthusiasm of your players, so it is important to match your intended duration to your target players and outcomes.

4. If it is a location-based game, what distance do you expect it to be? A team of fit twenty-somethings will run a 5km course much faster than your mom and dad or aunt Edna!

5. How are you going to deliver the clues and how will you get the answers? The key to a fast, effective, Fun scavenger hunt is that the players do not have to wait around for clues or other information. The mechanism for question and answer (think of it as a reward for the player’s cleverness) needs to be as quick as you can possibly make it.

Who are you making this for and what is the desired outcome?

Whatever it’s called, the Scavenger Hunt, Urban Run, Fun Run, Treasure Hunt, Clue Chase Car Rally, Easter Egg Hunt game genre is as varied as the types of people involved in the game.

Teenagers out for a day’s romp in the city, a group of kids in a park looking for treasure hidden under rocks and trees, family groups looking for a day’s exploring in an unfamiliar town or country, bucks and hens out for a celebratory night on the town, the aim is to have fun, adventure, fitness, knowledge, exercise, find out new things and communicate with friends.

Once you’ve got your group that you’re making this for and the reason you’re making it, we can move onto the next item.

Where is the location and what are the boundaries of the game?

Is this a hunt for a birthday girl and her friends in the backyard, or for a group of friends to have an 8km fun-run around an unfamiliar neighbourhood or a tourist-inspired exploration of a downtown city area.

Locations can be set inside single rooms and buildings, yards or parks, requiring minimal movement, or from a city block to an entire city, utilising walking, running, and public or private transport to navigate around the clues.

Using the concept of a web-based delivery system, such as Cititrail’s RAW (Race Around the Web), your location can also be truly global in scope.

How long do you expect the game to last?

This is always a tricky question, particularly if you are about to build a location based course around an urban area, as some players will run the course quickly, others will walk in a determined manner, some will amble at their own pace!

A game set in a backyard or relatively small location, looking for clues, eggs, tokens or treasure, can be managed much more simply than a complex adventure around a larger and more involved campus, but setting time limits and paying attention to how fast people can walk, run and amble will let you put realistic limits on how long the game should take.

A game looking for treasure or tokens is generally finished when someone finds the final prize, becoming the winner, whereas the more complex games depend on status, leaderboard points or bragging-rights!

What is the distance for the course?

By the time you’ve thought about the preceding 3 items, then this one is probably already pretty much known, if you’re in the backyard, then no problem, if you’re in a city, all you need to do now is work out a map for the course, to suit the time window of the middle fitness level of your group, if you’re doing a web-based RAW or Trivia game, then all you need is a comfortable chair!

Now, the challenging bit – how are you going to deliver those clues, manage the answers and monitor progress?

There are the true and tried methods, which will work really well for those games at home, in small locations and places where you have people to oversee, which involve having answers or the next clue set in a place where the players been told to look. Having a planted actor or a local business worker to answer a riddle or give a vital piece of information is always fun and gives a human face to the game!

If all the visitors to a clue location need to pick up a token, written item or object, then you’ll need to have someone to physically replenish the stash, each time someone finds the clue, as you can’t guarantee that they’ll leave anything for the next person to find… people can be very competitive!

Physically guiding people in a game, replenishing clues and tokens, giving personal clues and information is a safe and secure way to manage your local game.

However, if your game campus is city or even country-wide, then some electronic form of communication and management will be needed. Your trusty phone has a number of program that you can choose from to provide these communications to and from your players.

Whatsapp, Messenger, Facebook, Text message, Twitter and similar Social applications, all have methods of setting up groups which allow instant communication between the members of the group.

If you’re a little web-savvy, you (or a colleague) can also setup a web page where you and your players can put comments and manage the Q&A that way.

There are also a number of existing Scavenger Hunt web-sites, which will provide you with a ready-made platform to produce and manage your game. Some of these are free, some charge nominal amounts, some will produce and manage the entire game for you – typically for a management fee.

Here’s a list of a few of them. You can find more by searching for Scavenger Hunt or Urban Hunt. Cititrail, Urban Hunt, Stray Boots.

We’ll post a follow up on what clues you should consider and how to make them. Now you know what you want to do, here’s a good way to setup an Urban Scavenger hunt trail, using Google Maps.

If we can help more, post a comment.


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