June 5, 2023

Context (matters)

How to make a Scavenger Hunt Part 1: Planning Phase

Making a Scavenger Hunt

Part 1

In person activities are one of the best ways to interact with your community and meet new people. Following the increase of in-person conference attendance post-quarantines, we have seen "Scavenger" Hunts" become very popular. Ten years ago, as a student developing games, I used to plan scavenger hunts around the university. I loved it, but it wasn't as cool as it is now. So I am very excited to see them back!

How do you get around and make a unique Scavenger Hunt? We are going to break this process into two parts. The planning phase and the building phase. In this first post, we will focus on the planning phase. Everything that goes into designing and planning your scavenger hunt. And in the next post, we will focus on how to build it. 

Let's get started!


To plan our scavenger hunt we will start by answering some key questions.

How big is your city or the conference where you are planning on doing this?

Determining the size of your hunt is the first step. This will help us design an experience that involves people walking, biking, or taking public transportation and driving from place to place. Again, it's essential to understand your audience and the city you are doing this in. We are going to call this our "Canvas."

How long is your scavenger hunt going for? 

Decide if it's intended to be an hour, half a day, or a few days. This will help determine the difficulty and how many clues we need between steps.

What story are you trying to tell and reveal in each step?

When creating a scavenger hunt, you need to think about the story behind it. Think about a pirate and a treasure chest. It's a scavenger hunt! And the pirate has a mission to find the treasure!

Questions to have in mind when planning the story:

Are you trying to make new people meet and network or are you trying to bring awareness to your brand?

What do the players have in common? 

  • A specific conference, music, art, major, sport.

How can you find what they have in common?

  • A simple example is the places your audience frequents, like a beer garden, coffee shop, or tea house. Now you have three groups of people with similar interests.

Are you trying to market a brand or bring awareness to a particular product?

  • What is the story of your brand?
  • Who is the audience, and what do they have in common?
  • What things around your "canvas" relate to your product?

Once you have these answers, we can start hiding the clues for the hunt.

Why are people playing?

Understanding why people would like to play is crucial. Are you offering a prize, revealing new information about a brand, etc. Being very clear with the objective and how you are going to motivate your players will increase engagement and player’s support. 

Rules of the game

Now that all the main questions are out of the way, let's jump into some game design. 

There are two types of scavenger hunts. A multiple step and a single step.

A multiple step scavenger hunt reveals a new clue in each step. Only when you get to the final step do you claim the price. An example can be a quest. Where in each step you learn something new about your final location. In this type of scavenger hunt, you will need to think carefully on the number of steps in your hunt.  Keep in mind that the more steps the more you will have to work to continue engaging your players. A good rule to follow is to start with straightforward clues and build the difficulty up

Some ideas for clues are: 

  • Riddles
  • Famous landmarks
  • Public places (parks, piers )

A single step scavenger hunt refers to hunts with only one clue to get to the final price. An example can be the same prices scattered around the city and once you grab one, your hunt is over. You can add a twist by hiding a very unique price in one of the locations for the lucky ones that find it, but it would be pure luck.

Adding bonus surprises to the hunt

As the scavenger hunt progresses, you want to motivate and engage users. You want to promote new users to start, even if they are starting late. And this is done with bonus surprises.

These could be random clues that jump them further along, swag along the way etc. Think about it when you play Mario Karts (hope you have played it, else go play and come back), the people at the end get the best surprises from the cubes that can help them move faster and catch up. And even if they know they won't catch up, they are having a blast and a unique experience.

Putting all Together 

Make a list of the number of steps, let’s start with 10 steps. In the list, label them as:

You get the idea! So once we have this chart all done with our steps, we will be ready to move to the next tutorial! The BUILD PHASE! Don't worry; with Mentaport, the build phase will be easier than the planning part. Most of the hard stuff (location, NFT, dynamic updates, and more) has been taken care of for you with our infrastructure.

So have fun planning, and I'll see you in the next phase!