With everyone stuck indoors and the government advising (read: ordering) people to refrain from large gatherings, many events are being increasingly postponed and/or cancelled. But while the majority of the world understands the need for social distancing at this time, that understanding doesn’t make the need for it any easier. Let’s face it – a lot of us are going stir crazy. Humans crave, no need, social interaction, particularly today’s society. It’s a lot easier now to understand how someone might die of loneliness, don’t you think!
The bright side of this, though, is the sheer creativity that loneliness has birthed. People are finding new and innovative ways to make the connections they’re missing. From djays playing music sets from their garage for their neighborhood, or for a larger audience on a social media platform, to Zoom meet-ups with family and friends – folks are combating the boredom in ways previously under-utilized.
Enter: virtual scavenger hunts.
The idea came to me after a particularly difficult week or craving human interaction. I scoured the internet, searching for the panacea to my issue before finally coming across, and modifying, the idea for a virtual scavenger hunt.
Setting up the Game
A virtual scavenger hunt is exactly what it sounds like. Someone hosts the meeting online and reads out each clue, while participants rush around their own homes searching for qualifying items within a certain time limit.
In lieu of Zoom, I opted for the more secure Cisco Webex system. At time of writing, Cisco offers a great many more features in its free membership than Zoom currently does – including unlimited meeting time (note: when Covid-19 first blew up, Zoom initially offered the same, but it seems they’ve now decided to capitalize on their increased popularity).
Cisco Webex allows you to tailor your meeting invite to your needs and edit. You can also easily set up meeting reminders to be sent up to 30 minutes before your online appointment event. Up to a paid plan for the option to stream your Webex meeting to Facebook Live. (As a bonus, if you choose to start your meeting from your iPhone, you can add the background of your choosing or blur your surroundings to add an air of professionalism.)
To invite participants to play, I either plugged in their email addresses, triggering an automatic invite, or shared my unique meeting room link and password. If you want a bigger crowd, you can also post invitation graphics to your social media platforms, covering the link and asking that those interested in attending message you.
As an extra security measure, I personally elected to have the room lock ten minutes after the meeting started (no nude or racist interlopers in my meeting, thank you). I encouraged everyone to download the software on their laptops so that, at time of play, they could view all of the other players in the grid view.
My favorite feature was the ability to share graphics with viewers. I used another app, Canva, to create a Welcome Screen and a screen of the Ground Rules I created. I had those screens up for attendees to view before the game officially began. I’ll link to PDFs of those graphics for you at the bottom of this article, but you can easily create your own in Canva or a similar mobile or desktop application.
The Ground Rules
To make it more interesting, I allowed for the second place round winner to earn three points, and the third place winner to earn one (1) point. A simpler method is just letting the first person to return win the round – earning one point.
Another Cisco Webex feature I loved, was the ability to share an app during your meeting. I downloaded a timer app to my desktop and shared it during each round. It was handy for everyone to be able to see and hear the timer loud and clear!
Since our scavenger hunt was @quarantine approved”, I worked in some hot commodity items – like toilet paper, hand sanitizer , masks (one person brought back a Spider-Man mask and another brought back a charcoal mask) and soap. Encourage the creativity! It makes for more fun.
I did pay out a small virtual prize via PayPal to the first place winner, but I didn’t tell anyone there was a prize until after the fact. How you handle that is up to you!
Finally, here’s video of our game. The ability to record meetings (and stop and start as you wish) is my final favorite feature of Webex (and Zoom as well). I recorded all 37 minutes through the Cisco platform, but you’ll notice it didn’t capture everyone’s faces (someone needs to work on their tech skills, obvs). I’ll figure that out for next time. Meanwhile, the audio alone is entertainment enough! Most importantly, as the host – you’ll have the same fun, with none of the cleanup *wink, wink*.