Bret Watson, ceo of Watson Adventures, a custom scavenger hunt-building company, took a few minutes to offer his advice to budding Long John Silvers:
1)Make the clues fit the game. Consider the difficulty of the clues and the temperament of the hunters. If they are too hard, the people solving them will get frustrated and stop having fun, or start cheating and miss the point of the exercise. Too easy and they’ll get bored. Keep the participants feeling challenged and invigorated, not patronized or unskilled.
2) Avoid clues leading to clues. If a player has to solve clue A before he can get to clue B, and he doesn’t figure out clue A, the game is stalled before it gets started. Instead, make the clues independent of one another, all pointing toward the ultimate goal, so even if one isn’t solved, the game can still be won.
3) Have a smartphone policy. To Google or not to Google? That is the question. If clues require knowledge from outside the game, perhaps allowing mobile phones is wise for that game. Remember, people will probably cheat and use it anyway. On the other hand, it’s important to remember that some people don’t carry smartphones, so make sure the playing field is even or people will call foul.
4) Prevent cheating. The more valuable the prize, the more incentive people have to cheat, so if you’re offering an iPad, or $100,000, make sure cheating either is impossible or allowed.
5) Hide the clues carefully. When choosing hiding places in a scavenger hunt, make sure the clues are hidden in permanent and unobtrusive locations. If you hide a clue under Dan Hanover’s new SUV, you run the risk he’ll decide to drive to Okemo the day of your game, and, well, it’ll be a bit hard to find that one.