What started as fierce (even cutthroat) competition ended with an experiment in consensus-making at the Meow Wolf Outside Scavenger Hunt, one of our immersive experiences for the 2018 South by Southwest festival in Austin.
The grand prize in the scavenger hunt was a $10,000 lifetime pass to all current and future Meow Wolf exhibitions (hey, Denver. hey, Las Vegas). The winner also received a brick with their name on it at the new Hope Outdoor Gallery.
Out of nearly 3,000 registrants, we gave passports to the first 150 people to arrive at the Consulate Office, a chaotically bureaucratic space hosted by the Rabbithole Immersive team from the Bay Area. The passport officers gave players their very first stamp of the hunt. The first player to get all 10 stamps on their passport won the grand prize.
Characters hiding throughout Austin held the remaining nine stamps. Passport holders received cryptic text messages that gave them clues to hunt down these stamp-bearers. The hunt (engineered with the help of Twin Alchemy Collective’s incredible Katie Green) took contestants to such Austin institutions as the Museum of Natural and Artificial Ephemerata, the Austin Tinkering School, the original Soup Peddler, and an abandoned zoo in the Walnut Creek Greenbelt.
Scavving for Stamps
Some of the most memorable moments of the hunt were at pop-up immersive events. Players:
- became the captive audience for a concert in a moving van.
- had their Tarot read by local Austin legend Elise Entzenberg at Russian House.
- attended a tech demo at the Stickwork sculptures in Pease Park for DOWS-R, a smart device described as, “Google, but for physical objects.”
- played with Austin’s Wooden Nickel Carnival at the historic Women’s Federation Mansion, with guest host Mikey Rae, of Mikey Rae’s Talent show. (We’re told the event was crashed by a dancing swamp monster. Sorry.)
- listened to hours and hours of Travis County Community Radio.
- bared their souls in our gruelingly introspective finale event.
The competition was downright feral at times, but as the week went on we noticed that the scavvers created their own emergent community. They helped each other, sometimes offering tips on where players could find stamps. This got us thinking…
And the winner is…
The game culminated in a grand finale, where the final seven participants who held nine stamps each were asked to decide the winner by consensus. Who helped the most? Who made the game fun? Who, other than yourself, would you like to see win? The seven finalists were certainly all worthy, but after a difficult and heartfelt group process, the players chose Jane Tan as the grand prize winner. ‘Grats, Jane!
Our film team captured a lot of the hunt as it unfolded. Keep an eye peeled for the Meow Wolf Outside mini-doc. Coming soon!