A couple of years ago, many geocachers heard of this new game — Munzee. It had some of the same ideas as geocaching — find something out in the wild and discover it.
Alas, it was different — one needed a smartphone. The idea was to scan a QR code and get points.
At the same time, I wondered if it would catch on. After all, not everybody had a smartphone, so it might not get people as involved as it might if there were other ways to play the game.
I got in on it early. I placed a couple and found a few others more. But nobody really did it in my area. To be fair, it’s still not something that has caught on. But recently, I gave it a peek again and it’s definitely something I’d like to do a little more of. What caught my eye was a post on Lone R’s blog discussing secret Munzees.
Turns out there are Munzees you can find online. Seems like a pretty smart idea to allow people to find something on a bad weather day. I found several that night and was interested again.
Still, I needed to learn more about this company — one that started in July 2011 and has a staff of four, of which one is full time.
Before moving forward, though, one needs to know what Munzee is.
“A worldwide smartphone scavenger hunt with options to incorporate business partnerships and private events,” said Rob Vardeman, the Business Development and Community Manager at Munzee Inc. On Jan. 1, Vardeman became the first full-time employee at Munzee.
Of the many smartphones out there, Munzee is only on iPhone or Android devices.
The idea for Munzee came to co-founder Aaron Benzick in 2008, but he needed to wait until technology and phones were ready. An organizational meeting was held in January 2011 and everything launched in July of the same year.
Benzick co-founded the company with Scott Foster, Chris Pick and Josh Terkelsen, who has since moved on from the company.
Though geocachers seemed to jump on board with Munzee in the beginning, Vardeman said only one of the co-founders had ever found a geocache.
“Munzee was designed to be a competitive game, based on new QR technology,” Vardeman said. “We never dreamed it would take off as fast as it has, and spread to so many new markets.”
The basis is simple. Find the Munzee, scan the QR code with your phone and collect points.
Munzees can be located in many places, including inside geocaches.
Players can create two types of Munzees — regular and virtual. If you are a premium member, you receive a premium gold Munzee to deploy. That special star is worth 50 points when deploying and 10 points for a user when they capture it. Several times a year, the company also sells mystery Munzees. Vardeman said the most recent release of these saw 5,000 sold in fewer than three hours. Those mystery Munzees have a random point assigned per capture. The points can range from 5-50.
The Munzees can be deployed in many places, as long as it follows the company code of conduct.
Virtual Munzees are used at places where a physical Munzee can’t be be. They can be placed anywhere, though.
As an example, I had never found a virtual. I noticed there was one in Cooperstown and I had planned to go there this past Sunday. And, as luck would have it, it’s for the Baseball Hall of Fame. You needed to be within 300 feet to be able to make the snag on this one. Even better? I was first to capture!
Munzee’s slogan kind of tells the story for finders, too: Find. Capture. Reward. And taking that in mind, the game is pretty much what the user decides.
“For some it is about the competition,” Vardeman said. “For others it’s all about the points. Some deploy and capture only when it involves hiking and scenery. A Munzee is very easy to conceal in locations where a container could never be placed. … Munzee is a game for hardcore gamers or casual part-timers.”
As for those secret Munzees that grabbed my attention again?
“Secret Munzees, which don’t stay secret long if you visit the forums, are controlled and issued only through Team Munzee,” Vardeman said. “We are always looking to break through into new areas, so we test theories to see if we can make something work. The outcome has been excellent so far. The fun all comes from watching players try to solve the secret.”
One of the classic examples is the Konami code one, and it’s simple enough — visit the Munzee website and type in one of the most well-known cheat codes in the world — Contra. Check it out and see how you can snag a few Munzees in the process.
“Using the arrow keys, B, and A — you, too, can Munzee your way through Contra,” Vardeman said. “What’s next? Just wait and see!”
Munzees are in more than 100 countries and are on all seven continents — Antarctica included. At the point I wrote this, there were 299,985 Munzees deployed and 1,884,947 captures.
The growth of the company has allowed Munzees to branch into different directions, such as businesses.
A business Munzee is designated with a purple pin on the Munzee map. A basic one doesn’t cost businesses anything and works like a digital reward card. When customers scan it, there’s an option for businesses to offer rewards. There are also additional services and packages, by contacting Munzee, available for a fee, such as corporate events, trade shows and private events.
With so many options, it seems like Munzee is moving in the right direction.
“Munzee will continue to extend the boundaries of the smartphone location-based scavenger hunt industry,” Vardeman said. “Technology will continue to evolve and Munzee will be poised to evolve with it.”
On the web:
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