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Make Your City a Treasure Hunt

Do you remember going on a treasure hunt as a child? Treasure hunts are becoming increasingly popular with adults, as well as children. Technology has enabled mobile treasure hunts with cities across the world hosting hunts.
Jennifer Evans-Cowley | July 10, 2015, 9am PDT
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I am in Glasgow, Scotland with students and faculty from around the world learning about Cities and Citizens in the Digital Age. The sessions have been wonderful and I am sharing in installments a number of the key sessions that would be of interest to the Planetizen community.

Visitors and residents alike enjoy exploring a city. Typically we do this by looking online for information about the city. Some cities are choosing to make their city into a treasure hunt. John Ferry, digital and new media manager for Glasgow Museums, shared how Glasgow is providing a fun way to explore the cultural assets of the city.

A company approached Glasgow Museums and the city to offer a free treasure hunt app. A treasure hunt app provided a positive way to encourage greater exploration of the city. The Global Treasure app asks people to answer questions they can answer from visiting sites in the city. As visitors explore they collect treasure tokens that can be redeemed for a small prize. More than 8,000 people have downloaded the app and started using it. I tried the treasure hunt at the Kelvingrove Museum with a colleague and students and we had a fun time exploring.

To further encourage people to explore the city, Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Museum created the How Glasgow Flourished app. The app explores the rise of Glasgow between the 1700s to today. The app allows people to explore archival maps of Glasgow from 1778 and 1821 that provides views of buildings, streets and city views  of Glasgow. It allows people to see how their streets looked in the past and the contrast with their appearance today.  

Companies have found that there is a market for team based treasure hunts. People are finding treasure hunts are great for team building for companies, birthday parties, or just for fun. The HiddenCity turns London and Manchester into an experience. The user is sent clues via text massages. People can work in teams to explore the city. Each trail has between eight and 22 clues and lasts two to four hours. Once players have signed up for a fee, the teams receive a text message with the starting location. Players find the next location based on the clue. All the locations are within walking distance. Players explore everything from cultural destinations to local pubs. WildGoose offers treasure hunts in Las Vegas, Montreal, and Toronto. Participants are provided with a tablet which allows participants to delve into history, music, sports and food. Teams knowledge is tested throughout the treasure hunt.

How can you create a treasure hunt for you city? Klikaklu, Scavify, Strayboots, Huntzz, and GooseChase all allow individuals to create their own treasure hunt. For example, Brian Hamilton created a treasure hunt for the Old Towne District in Orange, California using Huntzz. Participants are encouraged to follow the clues to learn about the neighborhood. Participants are able to install for free the Huntzz app for Android or iPhone. And the treasure hunts can be free or for a fee.

Does your city offer a treasure hunt? If so, tell us about your experience.

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