I love crafting immersive games for people to challenge the mind, body, and spirit. For this one, I started thinking how to make a game that is hidden all around us.
At FORM, a yearly festival at my home at Arcosanti, we have lots of tech-saavy, playful artists converge on site. I knew I could push the limit in terms of using tools to immerse. The main problem was how to do it at scale over 3 days.
I created an Augmented Reality scavenger hunt, which had people solve riddles that led them to augmented reality clues with pieces of a map and letters to unscramble. There were ~1500 people here, so I wanted to make it HARD to solve. I only had a few prizes, so spread the clues out far distances, and made it so certain steps were only solvable by retracing one’s footsteps at specific times of day based on the sun.
It was a great challenge to pull this off. My friend Sean Bollinger helped me link the clues to the AR trackers. Otherwise, I was on my own. I remember walking a very heavy generator far into the woods every evening to power a “living room” in nature while missing some amazing music, and climbing up the sides of cliffs to place clues. I remember thinking someone would have to be pretty crazy to solve all of these questions!
It worked! I had various people make it partially and a few most of the way into the game. People were teaming up with strangers and obsessing over the clues. I had people get angry at me b/c it was “so fun they couldn’t do anything else this weekend” !! What an honor.
When all was done, there was only one winner, Sam Weisman. He spent many hours each day solving the clues. He trekked far off course into the desert. He got so frustrated he left the festival in the middle of the night on his last day, drove 30 min away, said fuck it and drove back. He found a resident of Arcosanti just before sunrise who helped him solve the final clue he needed.
To deliver the final prize to Sam, I instructed him to stand in the middle of a crowd, and then used my drone to fly him a limited edition bronze medallion while everyone watched. It was similar to how tributes in The Hunger Games get prizes via air drop. Sam said it felt like the whole festival was built around him! We’ve become great friends and cofounded Phestiv together to bring interactive gamification to the masses in festivals. It’s magic how life works <3.
I have lots of video footage showing the journey that I’ll edit at some point.