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Frequently Asked Questions
"Oh my god. It's full of stars."
Okay, what is this deal? Every year I organize a Treasure hunt for my closest friends. Players assemble into teams and solve a series of clues (usually 5-8), each of which is a puzzle or a riddle of some sort. The solution of each clue will tell you the location of the next. The object is to find a Silver Coin hidden somewhere on the University of Washington campus. The first team to solve all the clues and find the coin wins, and all the other teams must buy them beer (or the alternative beverage of their choice) at the shin-dig afterwards.
How many people on a team? Three or four. You can form your team ahead of time (recommended) and register it here, or just show up at the Hunt a little early to form one on the fly.
Can I invite a friend to be on my team? Feel free to invite a buddy to be on your team -- I don't have to "okay" them or anything. But please limit your "guests" to one or two -- I'm afraid that if we get too many people (a) I might not have enough clues for all the teams, and (b) the small, "friendly competition" spirit of the event might get lost.
How likely am I to win? Who cares? Your goal should be to have a good time, finish the hunt, and drink beer afterwards. Part of the "having fun" part means that you have to act like you care about winning, but if you really care about winning then you're sort of missing the point.
Okay, but even finishing the hunt sounds tough. Are these puzzles hard? Nah. They are designed to be solvable by your average Joe-on-the-street, and focus more on teamwork instead of puzzle-aptitude. For reassurance, read the recap from last year's hunt.
How long do these usually take? 90 - 120 minutes.
And what happens afterwards? We gather at the "College Inn Pub" to buy beer for the victors, swap stories, play games and generally make a nuisance of ourselves. This year, however, we will also be heading down to the Seattle Cinerama to catch a screening of "2001: A Space Odyssey" in glorous 70mm.
What can I bring to the hunt? Pens, pencils, paper, a clipboard (or other hard writing surface), maybe a backpack or something and nothing else. No laptops, not cell phones, no palm pilots, no pocket dictionaries -- nothing that would give you an "edge" over another team. Trust me -- the clues are such that you won't need anything but teamwork and a little creativity.
What if it rains? Then we will get wet. As those zany boy scouts are prone to sayinbg: "Be prepared.
How many of these have there been? The first one was held in 1995. I was a senior at The Evergreen State College when I read an article on the annual MIT Treasure Hunt and decided that I wanted to throw one of my own. The first hunt was attended by about 30 people, and the clues were spread all around downtown Olympia, WA. Teams were allowed to drive from location to location. I decided to make future hunts foot-based because the vehicles of the two of the teams collided during the hunt. They were both trying to drive into the sole Public Library driveway from opposite directions, and neither one wanted to let the other one go first, so they ran into each other at a speed of about 1/16 of a mile an hour. Also, another team didn't realize they were allowed drive and therefore ran all over the town which didn't seem quite fair (although they did manage to come in second!).
The second hunt was held in 1997 in La Paz, the capital of Bolivia. The third, fourth and fifth were held after my return: in 1998, 1999 and 2000.
So .. wait. You said this was on foot? Yes. Oh yes. Dress casually, wear walking shoes, and do not strap Juniper Darrow onto you back before the proceedings. The level of athleticism involved is mostly dependent on your team -- some haul ass from one clue to the next, others are content to mosey -- but you will be on the move so dress accordingly.
I've never actually seen 2001. Will I be at a disadvantage? You mean at a disadvantage as a functioning member of society? Yes. But not having seen the movie (or read the book) won't matter a whit as far as the Hunt goes. That said, if you've never seen the movie, you simply must join us for the screening afterwards. Not everyone enjoys the film as much as myself, but it's still something you should see at least once in your life. I would also highly recommend reading the book prior to seeing the film, as it will help make sense out of what can otherwise be a very bewildering flick.