As part of my birthday-slash-final-day-of-#100DaysOfPlay a dozen friends and I went on a treasure hunt around central London. Guided by a etherial voice, aka text messages from an organisation called In The Hidden City, we made our way from the National Theatre on the Southbank, across the river and through Covent Garden, finishing up in a favourite pub.
The format worked remarkably well – a clue would direct you somewhere, and then you’d have to decode a cryptic message to find a word or phrase which you would text back in order to get the next clue. Breaks were built in, with discounts in the venues negotiated if you mentioned that you were doing the treasure hunt. And it’s all timed so you can compete (if you wish) in multiple teams, or against everyone who has done this quest.
There was a degree of London-knowledge-honour at stake, even amongst our collaborating group. Each clue was pondered by everyone, with many of the answers divined before we’d reached the destination which was supposed to help us to find the solution. I guess I’d have preferred a few more ‘Find this blue plaque and write down the fifth word’ clues that would get you really having to find hidden gems.
That aside, I definitely did find that the treasure hunt reinvented the space, and allowed me to see things that I’d certainly walked past on many occasions. I love play activities that reclaim what is otherwise space whose use is defined for a particular purpose – especially when that purpose is ‘passing through from A to B’. There are bits of the city I will forever see in a new light, just because I was invited to look more carefully.
Gold is a treasure, and he who possesses it does all he wishes to in this world, and succeeds in helping souls into paradise – Christopher Columbus
Ease of play: 5/10
Resemblance to play: 7/10
Potential frequency of play: Low