Most of the time when I hear someone talking about Reddit, they’re sharing an image or a funny thread they saw on the site. But Reddit can also do a lot of good, because it connects communities and individual people with ideas, news, trends, and most importantly, each other; remember when Reddit users gathered to create a 3D printed prosthesis for another user’s brother? Anyone can create a community around a topic: volunteer users independently moderate the communities, where members share stories, images, and links. The global community decides what the most important topics are by casting ‘upvotes’ or ‘downvotes’ and the most interesting ones rise to the top, to be read and commented on by other users. These upvotes helped one user decide to create a 3D printing game that would include the entire city of San Francisco!
The Reddit post proposed a citywide scavenger hunt using hundreds of 3D printed toys. 25-year-old software developer Ben Baltes is the mastermind behind the “Hidden City” scavenger hunt game. He is no stranger to 3D printing, as one of the co-founders of an Oakland 3D printing toy startup called ToyBox. He told Mashable last week that the project has been on his mind for the last two years, and that while it may look like a game, he regards it as more an experiment. He “thought it would be cool to print things to find” and track where they go.
Baltes told Mashable, “This is my effort to make the world a little more interesting.”
This sounds a lot like geocaching: his original post indicated that he wanted to hide the toys in interesting spots around San Francisco for pedestrians to find, like putting a 3D printed monkey toy in a tree, or a 3D printed sloth toy on a railing. Each 3D printed creation has a unique link or QR code on it, so the toy finder can scan the code, get to a website about the toy, and read about its travels through the city. The website would also include some simple game rules, like the ones he originally thought of:
- Congrats and welcome to the game! The first step is to find a toy, you’ve done just that.
- Leave a comment on the page where you find the toy, maybe say something about yourself, snap a picture of you and the toy.
- Within 12 hours, hide the toy in another location for someone else to find! Take a picture of where you hid the toy and mark it on the map. The map won’t be public until the toy is found, the picture might or might not be.
Baltes posted his idea on Reddit a couple of weeks ago and said that if it received over 150 upvotes, he would continue planning the game. He wasn’t sure if he would be wasting his time creating such a large, involved game, but clearly he’s not, as the post received more than 400 upvotes in less than a week! His ToyBox startup is sponsoring the project, and Baltes and his team plan to 3D print and hide 200 toys; this will be time-consuming, as it takes four to five hours to print just one toy, but it looks like it will be worth it. He wants participants to get creative when they contribute to the game, by posting about their experience finding the toy, or adding a picture of the toy. He hopes people will play along and not just take the toys, and envisions it becoming a bigger community effort, catching on and spreading to other cities.
In the Reddit post, Baltes said, “I think it would be really amazing over time tracking where these toys have gone over time and what type of people the toys have seen. There is no real purpose for me making this game other than I think that it may brighten people’s day by adding a little something extra that is interesting to their day.”
He asked other Redditors for their ideas and opinions on how to make the game more engaging, and the community stepped up; check out the 62 comments (as of the time of editing) on the Reddit post! There were so many offers of assistance that Baltes ended up creating an open Slack channel devoted to the giant scavenger hunt – game developers can go on to help him organize it. He included a shared spreadsheet that’s filled with tasks like app development, toy creation, and expenses. He is hoping that the game will debut by the end of February. So if you live in San Francisco and happen to be out and about around Valentine’s Day, keep your eyes peeled: you just might see a 3D printed robot or rhino hiding on top of a fence. Discuss in the 3D Printed Scavenger Hunt forum at 3DPB.com.