Beyond IQ

Puzzlecraft: Creating a Puzzle Hunt

  • 29 Jan 2019
  • (PST)
  • 14 May 2019
  • (PDT)
  • 16 sessions
  • 29 Jan 2019, 11:00 AM 12:00 PM (PST)
  • 05 Feb 2019, 11:00 AM 12:00 PM (PST)
  • 12 Feb 2019, 11:00 AM 12:00 PM (PST)
  • 19 Feb 2019, 11:00 AM 12:00 PM (PST)
  • 26 Feb 2019, 11:00 AM 12:00 PM (PST)
  • 05 Mar 2019, 11:00 AM 12:00 PM (PST)
  • 12 Mar 2019, 11:00 AM 12:00 PM (PDT)
  • 19 Mar 2019, 11:00 AM 12:00 PM (PDT)
  • 26 Mar 2019, 11:00 AM 12:00 PM (PDT)
  • 02 Apr 2019, 11:00 AM 12:00 PM (PDT)
  • 09 Apr 2019, 11:00 AM 12:00 PM (PDT)
  • 16 Apr 2019, 11:00 AM 12:00 PM (PDT)
  • 23 Apr 2019, 11:00 AM 12:00 PM (PDT)
  • 30 Apr 2019, 11:00 AM 12:00 PM (PDT)
  • 07 May 2019, 11:00 AM 12:00 PM (PDT)
  • 14 May 2019, 11:00 AM 12:00 PM (PDT)
  • Online


  • Get a registration discount if you are a GHF Member. We are not currently set up for new memberships - if you are interested in becoming a member, send an e-mail to courses@giftedconference - as soon as memberships can be set up, we will arrange a refund of that part of your fee.

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Do you love Escape Rooms?  Do you wish you were at MIT each January to join the MIT Mystery Hunt? (  Do you love to share your intense interests with others and are intrigued by the idea of crafting a puzzle from your passion?  This is the space we get to do all of that – puzzling, creating, and tying together all our passions into one incredible GHF Puzzle Hunt!

Puzzle Hunts are made from a set of puzzles that give an answer upon being completed – usually a word or phrase.  Those answers work together in a meta-puzzle that gives a single final answer.  (Or, in more complex hunts, the meta puzzles work together towards a meta-meta puzzle.  Or… yes, it can get complex!)

By the end of the course, students will have collaborated in making and playtesting our own Puzzle Hunt using techniques for puzzle creation that we will play without throughout the course.  We will also be solving a mini-puzzle hunt and exploring puzzles from the MIT Mystery Hunt – likely from both this year (theme dependent) and previous years.

Syllabus is subject to change based on progress through puzzle creation and Puzzle Hunt progress.  Students are highly encouraged to explore puzzle hunts and propose changes to our syllabus based on kinds of puzzles they want to explore more deeply.

Every day will include some collaborative puzzling and puzzle creation.  Homework assignments will be entirely doing and crafting puzzles, and will be important for making the class work.  Expect at least an hour of puzzling a week outside of class.  Students will be able to stretch that to many more if they so choose.

For more information and example of Puzzle Hunts, look at:


   - If you look in the archives, the 2006 MysteryHunt was my introduction to Puzzle Hunts and I still think it was a good hunt!  Last year’s Hunt, based on the movie Inside Out, also shares the kick-off video and has a lot of great puzzles as well.

   - there’s a sampler puzzle at the bottom that you can work on (as a family, if you like!) to give you a sense of how to do a puzzle hunt.  This is what we’ll be shooting for.  We’ll be completing an issue of this magazine together as well.


Day 1: Course introduction.  Discussion and sharing of favorite puzzles.  Discussion of issues in crafting puzzles and approaches that help.  Sharing of passions, brainstorming ways to make them into puzzles.

Day 2:  In-depth look at puzzle hunts and beginning to work on one.  Clue extraction – crafting a simple puzzle with an extractable clue. The importance of flavor text. 

Day 3:  Introduction to cryptic clues – looking at several different puzzles that use cryptic clues.  Crafting a cryptic clue-based puzzle.

Day 4: The role of cultural references in puzzling, and identification of references students may wish to include.

Day 5: Metapuzzles – how they work, beginning to lay out possibilities for our own metapuzzle. 

Day 6: Focused time for working our way through a puzzle hunt.  Gathering of ideas for our own hunt.

Day 7: Word puzzles.  Use of language or story to create puzzles, making simple word puzzles, such as word searches, more complex.

Day 8: Visual puzzles.  The use of images and even video in puzzle crafting.

Day 9: Creating puzzles based on games (video or board).

Day 10: Logic puzzles – using or creating your own logic puzzle for a puzzle hunt.

Day 11:  Puzzlecrafting: Planning out the puzzles that will work together in our Puzzle Hunt. 

Day 12: Puzzlecrafting part 2:  The importance of playtesting.  Checking in on progress, extra puzzle time.

Day 13: Exploring additional puzzles based on student requests and needs.

Day 14: Final coordination of our own puzzle hunt and the one we’re solving together.

Day 15: Presentation of Puzzle hunt – inviting others to come puzzle with us!

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