Hunt The Goose

Wildgoose Events logoPreviously on this blog, Chris mentioned Wildgoose Events’ tablet treasure hunts. As a friend of Chris’, I mentioned to him I had the pleasure of taking part in one of these a couple of months before DASH 6 in London, staged in much the same area, so he’s invited me to blog about it here.

I should say, by way of disclaimer, that I’m not 100% sure it was Wildgoose Events who organised the event I attended, but if not it was someone very similar.  The event was part of a conference at my head office in London, and we had about 20-25 teams of 6 people, all pretty technical.

The hunt started at 6pm in a pub near Liverpool St Station, on a midweek evening.  We had a reserved garden room at the pub for the briefing and debriefing, and it’s fair to say the pub was the low point of the evening, as the room we had was nowhere near big enough.

After a short introduction, each team was given a shoulder bag containing paper, pens, portable battery charger, and a 7″ tablet, which was the main interface with the hunt by way of a custom app.

The app basically displayed a map of the event area, with about 50 locations marked.  The general gist of it was:

  1. Go to a location
  2. App tells you that you can try the question (using GPS, which was mostly OK, although a little tricky in a couple of areas)
  3. You press the button, get a (multiple-choice) question, put in the correct answer, and score some points.

One particularly nice feature of the app was that, as well as providing the map, it also updated HQ with current score and location, and this was broadcast to all teams.  This meant there was a (slightly behind) leader board that you could see, and you could also see where other teams were on the map.

The event was timed, with a deadline of 8pm, so as you can imagine most of the questions where expected to take less than a minute, and as a result there were no organizing team members outside of the pub.  The questions were mostly: Find this plaque/sign/etc, type in some word/number/etc.  There was some imagination in them (such as which gender is the goat).  Most questions were worth 10-20 points, with a single point deducted for each wrong answer.

To liven things up a bit, some of the questions were timed (roughly 60 seconds, I think). And some were related general knowledge.  But none were puzzles.

There were also a few “challenges” that you could find.  These could be completed at any time after you’d found them, and were silly, photo things.  Such as “Photo your team using some form of transport”.  The key thing with these is that these points were assessed after the event, to ensure that they’d been completed successfully.  This meant that the leader board wouldn’t show the whole picture.  It also meant that we could have a small slide show after the event with the most amusing pictures.

Being somewhat competitive with this sort of thing, I was given charge of the tablet, and basically frog-marched the team around London – with only very minor complaints of speed 🙂  We had a fairly slow start, and were just above mid-table for a while, but we soon got into the swing of things (and other teams no doubt got fed up with things), so we found almost all of the questions in the time, and were top of the leader board by the end.  However, we knew we’d under-achieved on the challenges, so things were tense.

The conclusion was made more exciting by us having to return to the original pub by the given deadline – with serious points penalties for being even a minute late.  We thought we were ok for time in the last few minutes, but a panicked inability to find the pub entrance in a built-up area meant I ended up running, and I plonked the tablet down on the table just as the clock flicked over – sparing us any penalty by literally 1 second.

While the challenges were judged, the pub provided a massively inadequate buffet.  Not only could people barely reach it, due to the size of the room, but many people managed to get no more than a couple of potato wedges or similar.  Boo.

The finale was similarly spoiled somewhat by the pub, as many people couldn’t see the TV screen to see the amusing photos people had done.  In the final analysis we came second, which was cool – although I was disappointed that medals were only awarded for the first place team.

Overall it was a well-organised, corporate entertainment event.  It would have been easy to have more challenging things at each location.  However, if it was used for serious competitors, then there would be a lot of running around in busy streets which could cause safety concerns!

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