The “Girls and Boys, Come Out to Play” hunt in central London today was a smash hit! Two little teams merged at the last minute, so all told there were seven teams of six-ish walking around London and solving puzzles, mostly within an assortment of pubs and cafés. The hunt started just outside the Tower of London, went as far west as the Southwark Bridge, then back as far as south as the Borough Market and completing the loop by finishing with a tour of the St. Katharine Docks. There was a good four miles walking over the course of the day, maybe more.
Apart from the conclusion, there were nine locations among the way. Most of the nine locations had an extremely mild, though highly thematic, physical challenge that had to be conquered in order to earn your team the location puzzle. The puzzles were all of a very high standard, in the usual puzzle hunt answer extraction format. The hunt followed the “leisurely mini-game” tradition, with no scoring and hints provided generously, which led to a really relaxed, happy atmosphere, and no formal comparison between team performances.
I get the impression that our team were probably the fourth finishers of the seven, though this is fairly meaningless as we don’t know how many hints teams took, or how long teams took to break for lunch and so on. That said, for most of the puzzles, we often missed some of the deliberately included subtleties which would have led to a really clean-feeling, precise solution… and ended up feeling that it was our imperfection, not that of the puzzle. It doesn’t really matter, as the goal was to have fun, and that was achieved in spades.
It’s not clear whether the hunt will ever be repeated, but it could be; if there’s an arguably negative criticism of the hunt, it’s that the puzzles were not especially exactly tailored to the locations used. This is far from an inherently negative judgement, as it would permit the hunt to be run again elsewhere around the UK, which could be an excellent thing for the national puzzle hobby. (There was some pretty strongly British content, though, so rerunning it overseas would take more work… though it wouldn’t be impossible by any means.) Accordingly, there might not be too many specifics about the precise ways in which the puzzles were spectacular, just in case. With only 40-ish players, there were a great many people who missed a real treat, but it’s nice to consider the possibility that you might not necessarily have missed this treat forever.
Outstanding fun and superb company. Many, many thanks to the organisers who have worked long, hard and extremely successfully to create a wonderful day for all the players.