Formerly known by the acronym GISHWHES – Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen and then shortened to the more pronounceable GISH, this scavenger hunt is one of the most innovative and inclusive charity events of the world and this year, the tenth since its creation, it adjusts to the circumstances that have left everyone to lockdown in our homes with a mini-hunt that will take place on the first weekend of next March.
What is GISH?
GISH‘s official description, which you can find over on the website, has this to say about it:
GISH is the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt, a Guinness World Record-setting experience designed to bring out the weird, creative, and adventurous sides of people while doing good. GISH combines creativity, art, fun, adventure, puzzles, cosplay, out-of-the-box thinking, and kindness for a week-long adventure unlike anything else as winners compete to win & make a difference in the world around them!
It’s an event, it seems, that wants to combine entertainment and fun to solidarity and tries to do so in unconventional ways. But how did this initiative first take shape?
The scavenger hunt was initially born out of the request by a publicist on Supernatural to Misha Collins to create something that could convince the show’s audience to vote for the CW series in the 2010 People’s Choice Awards. Misha Collins, who used to play the angel Castiel on the show, thought that the best way to do this would be to promise to share with the viewers a rhinoceros if they succeeded in getting the series to win the award.
When Supernatural did snatch the award for itself, Misha Collins, ever a man of his word, fulfilled the promise by sending the viewers who helped with the victory a puzzle of a rhinoceros with written behind it instructions to a scavenger hunt prompt. When said instructions were actually followed by those who received them, Collins saw the ordeal as an opportunity to officialise the challenge and proceeded to create, in 2011, what was then known as GISHWHES.
The idea was to try and connect people from all over the world in teams that would amicably battle each other by going through a list of weird but innocuous prompts to try and win the big final prize. The incentive was, therefore, the promise of a meeting with the mastermind himself but the admittance fee was also going to be in part devolved to several charity organisations, thus combining the pleasure of the hunt with the business of kindness.
How does it work?
In 2011, organising a worldwide virtual event as complex as GISH seemed almost an impossible mission.
Far be it for me to judge the planning as it goes on behind the scenes, but from the outside and as a participant, the process comes across as simple and without hitch.
Initially taking place over October and November and later moved to August, the scavenger hunt starts with a brief participant registration period. All those interested can make themselves available through the official site by leaving their details, paying the registration fee, and progressing into choosing a team. If the player already knows other participants and wants to start a team with them, they can do so by creating a team that will be recognised through a specifically assigned code. If, on the other hand, the player is approaching the hunt on their own, GISH automatically puts them into an existing team of 9-15 participants, all from different parts of the world and with different talents and personalities.
Once the hunt starts, the game takes place both on the virtual platform and in real life at the same time.
GISH provides a list of prompts that need to be completed by the end of the event and that give each team a set number of points. To make sure that the prompts have been completed, once the players are done, they can upload a picture or a video of the finished request on the web platform.
At the end of the event, all the points are counted and the team or teams with the most points are crowned victorious. Easy, right?
The philanthropic side
Aside from devolving part of the registration fees to charity organisations, some of the prompts of the hunt also have to do with worthy causes themselves.
Among the prompts, one can find requests that require the participants to pledge to dedicate themselves to acts of kindness all around them or there are even more immediate requests that see the players upload proof of donating to charities or of actively getting involved for good in the cities and countries they come from.
It’s not just about donating money. On the contrary, GISH wants to promote the participants’ involvement in the communities that surround them while at the same time shortening the distances of the world by bringing together people from all over. Its aim is a genuine and veritable development of the communitarian and solidary consciousness that we human beings already have a tendency for.
Guinness World Record
As we already mentioned before, GISH was recognised as Guinness World Record-breaking.
Upon its creation, GISH, then defined as a media scavenger hunt, was awarded as the Largest Scavenger Hunt of Its Kind with over 6000 participants, a significant amount for a digital event in 2011. The following year it broke its own record again by reaching over 14000 participants and the last edition for which we know the numbers, the 2016 one, ended up with 55000 participants. It’s a clear example of its unstoppable growth and engagement.
But the Largest Scavenger Hunt of Its Kind record isn’t the only one that GISH can be proud of breaking.
In 2012, on its second year since being born, GISH broke the record for Most Pledges for a Campaign/to Complete a Random Act of Kindness in the world. Then, in 2013, it gathered the Largest Online Photo Album of Hugs. It broke the record for Largest Chain of Safety Pins in 2014 with an 1802-meter-long chain and, in the same year, it also had the Largest Gathering of People Dressed as French Maids with 695 participants and the Most People in a Decorated Hat Competition, as well as the Longest Human Chain to Pass Through a Hula Hoop.
It’s a series of honourable titles that nobody could have predicted the existence of, but also just some of the examples of the prompts that GISH puts forward for all those courageous enough to participate.
But why bring it up today of all times?
In this weird global atmosphere that Covid-19 left us all in, an event made of pure fun and entertainment like GISH seems as necessary as impossible to participate in if we consider the restrictions that more or less everyone has to follow, in all continents, at the moment.
Misha Collins must have thought the same thing because, earlier this month, he announced a mini scavenger hunt that could involve all those interested in participating even if relegated to their own houses.
That’s how the WIZARDS & WEIRDOS PLAY-AT-HOME MINI HUNT came to be, a smaller GISH event lasting just for a weekend that can be completed entirely from the safety of one’s home. Aside from this small difference, the execution of the event will be the same with its list of prompts, its 9-15 people teams, its entrance fee, and prizes for three winning teams.
The event will take place on 6-7 of March and registrations will be open for 5 more days.
Seen as it is an international event where players from every country interact with each other, a measure of knowledge of the English language is required to ensure communication between teammates, but it is definitely an amazing chance to broaden these weird lives we’ve all found ourselves living due to current world affairs.
If you want to bring some positivity not just to your lives but also to those of the ones less fortunate, don’t hesitate to join and get ready for a weekend of endless hilarity and fun!
HAPPY GISH TO EVERYONE!