Frankly, I’ve been overwhelmed by the response to Footprint Mysteries Madison. The fact that people have spent their time and money on something new, from someone they’ve never heard of, not quite knowing what the heck it was all about, still astounds me.
The whole experience has been a lesson to me. But after the first 100 paying customers have completed the mystery, there are a few takeaways for me that stand out that I’ll share with you.
Families find this especially enjoyable:
A very large portion of the participants on this mystery were families and I’ve received feedback from parents talking about how fun it was for them to do and learn things with their children. Although the subject matter is a little mature, I’m glad that the experience appealed to both of them.
People still take things, even though I tell them not to:
Okay, I get it. You find something, you want to take it with you. Cool. But, doing this really hurts everyone else who wants to go on the mystery. I only check in on the set up once a week or so (sometimes less). The only time I know for sure if something is gone is if someone reaches out to me, which is the worst time for me to find out. It’s only happened twice that I know about. One time it was a very large group that split into multiple smaller groups, so at least those folks knew who did it (Steve from accounting! lol, I’m kidding).
People have to be encouraged to use the hints:
This an example of people wanting to be too clever. I totally get the allure of not wanting to “see the strings” of the game, which is my intention and an important part of the experience. But, if you miss a clue, you will not have enough information to get past some crucial steps and ultimately solve and enjoy the mystery.
Solving mysteries are hard! What is and isn’t a clue is very hard to determine. I’ve given all players access to a hints and answers page and in the confirmation email I stress the importance of double-checking to make sure you got everything. Soon, I may be updating the page so that you can fill in the blank, therefore putting the mystery into a more familiar format.
People like number games:
I think this is an issue that came about because people who like puzzles, escape rooms, and other such games have been trained to look for numbers. Numbers at irreproachable. Foolproof. Adding up nicely together. No loose ends. However, this experience is more human. While numbers have their place in this story, they do not tell the whole story and anyone looking for the tidiness of perfectly counted numbers should look elsewhere (try sudoku).
Those are my takeaways. If you’ve gone on the experience, maybe you recognize yourself in these comments. Either way, I want to end this post by saying thank you. I hope in the future I can create more memorable experiences for friends, families, and coworkers.