A district-wide thematic scavenger hunt, hosted by Game Genius, opens to the public on September 24 and runs until October 11.
This is the third annual District Hunt hosted by Game Genius, a nonprofit organization dedicated to meshing play, architecture, education and philanthropy through innovative, cutting-edge events and activities. This year’s hunt, playfully entitled “Treasured Greens and In-Betweens” is an exciting product of Game Genius’ core mission.
“A lot of what brings me joy is using games to help people think about issues they care about,” Peter Williamson, founder of Game Genius and the District Hunt, says. “Game Genius is always looking for creative ways to showcase the D.C. community. The marriage of those two things seemed natural for us [in creating the District Hunt].”
Each iteration of the District Hunt is built around a central theme — 2019’s hunt focused on women’s history, while 2020’s hunt focused on mental health. “Treasured Greens and In-Betweens” revolves around climate and the environment, providing players with the opportunity to learn something new about these issues and about local changemakers. Guests simultaneously dive into a sci-fi and fantasy world, which is hosted within the story of the hunt.
This year’s hunt, like previous years, is entirely free. Players are encouraged to sign up in teams of one to five. While the majority of the hunt takes place outdoors, Game Genius developers also want to be cognizant of people’s comfort levels in public spaces due to Covid-19. With this in mind, this year’s hunt was designed so players could complete as much as they deem appropriate — without losing out on any of the fun.
Nothing about this year’s hunt is mandatory. If you want to spend all day, go ahead. Or, if you want to take a quick break between Zoom calls, so be it. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure for the modern age. How the story unfolds depends on the players’ hearts and minds (and schedules).
At the end of the hunt, all players, regardless of level of completion, will have an opportunity to race against the clock for the storyline’s final puzzle.
“We’re trying to develop the story, so you’re building out something that’s very unique to you,” Williamson says. “It’s specific to a person because it depends on which locations they’ve visited.”
Registration for the hunt is open now through September 17. Once registered, players can participate in one of two distinct ways. During opening weekend, players can approach the hunt with a competitive edge. Teams can race against the clock to finish the puzzle as fast as possible — competing for bragging rights and special prizes.
If you’re looking for a different pace, after opening weekend, complete the puzzle on your own time. This gives teams the opportunity to leisurely enjoy the hunt without time pressures and fully appreciate how the game unfolds. Players can get lunch, continue exploring the nooks and crannies of the District, or simply head home and plan to finish the next day (once their feet and legs are ready to throw in the towel).
Williamson dreams of the District Hunt as a staple in D.C. — something friends and families can look forward to each year. As a former professional golfer, architecture and geography student and philanthropist, Williamson stands at a fascinating crossroad: one which inspired the creation of both Game Genius and District Hunt.
“I found that play and games are a constant across all communities,” Williamson says. “They may look different depending on where you live, but games [are] a really important part of culture. I’m always trying to use play and games for some form of social good.”
Williamson’s central goal for this year’s hunt is for people to have fun and discover new ways of play. He hopes players can enjoy nature while learning how its shaped our community.
“Hopefully, over time, we can build this idea [that the District Hunt] is a ‘by the community, for the community’ type event, and Game Genius is just the body behind it,” Williamson says. “If the community wants to get involved, we want to move forward in their direction.”
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