Global Scavenger Hunt

Misha Collins imagined a crazy-amazing plan and created a ridiculous, worldwide scavenger hunt.


A Bigger Purpose

Gishwhes (gish-wiss) stands for The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen - and it is. Just check out their Facebook and Twitter. They are stunning chronicles of both pure nonsense and truly inspiring teamwork.

Gishwhes has changed countless lives for the better and delivered a concentrated dose of joy to all those it has touched. Every objective is carried out spreading kindness through laughter. From individual participants to passers-by, it has spun a web of adventure-loving collaboration that spans the entire globe.

The original concept was developed and launched by Misha Collins, the star of the CW Network’s series Supernatural. He is a bubbly, excitable personality with a gargantuan social media following, who uses his influence well!

Gishwhes has currently broken 5 Guinness World Records (soon to be 8). Most recently it won for the Largest Online Photo Album of Hugs, in which 108,121 people in over 100 countries hugged someone and held up a message to the world. The game is magnetic. The objectives on past hunts range from awkward and absurd to touching and comedic... and people love it! Here are some examples:

  • Snow Ski Yoga: Players must participate in a yoga class in skis and full winter wear.
  • Coffee Bean Shakira: Players must make an image of Shakira with coffee beans.
  • Hug a Uniformed Veteran: Self-explanatory.

In short, it allows us—no, urges us—to ignore our boring, grownup rationale and indulge our inner-child. Throngs have said ‘Yes!’ and no doubt more will flock to the fun.

HTMLFusion Takes The Case… Because We Heart Fun

Misha and his team of supporters tried to pull off the hunt themselves the first year (we weren't apart of the team yet!). It turned out to be very successful and they received lots of love. However, they knew next year's event was going to become even bigger and that a proper, well-programmed website was essential to support the momentum.

Adam, a friend of Misha’s and a fellow NextSpace officemate of Philippe’s, was aware of Misha’s ambitious scavenger hunt and that he needed a hand with the technology. So he came to us with the project. Philippe was totally on board and we began to program the site for the second Gishwhes - Gishwhes 2012.

Basic Needs & High Scalability

There were a couple of basic things that the website needed to serve the massive hunt: registration, payment, location-oriented team-formation assistance, and post sign-up access to the hunt information. The work flow was carried out in this manner:

  • A custom algorithm was developed for team-creation.
  • A payment system that accepts international currency was implemented.
  • A photo sorting system was put in place for isolating the best images after the event.
  • An ‘invite and pay’ feature was added as well to encourage those who have already signed up to bring their community into the mix.

In addition to the more basic functions, the site needed to be able to process big data quickly and efficiently. The HTMLFusion team programmed a custom auto-scaling cluster that will deftly manage sudden spikes in millions of users.

Bigger and Better With Us

In the three years HTMLFusion has been on the project, paid users went from 7,000 a hunt to over 14,580. Coincidence? We think not. Our technologies have supported the event’s growth from fairly small-scale to a worldwide phenomenon! Many people reported how their participation in Gishwhes has changed them, their perspective of humanity, and the world for the better. Programming that facilitates a sense of wellbeing? That is success in our humble opinion.

"In the three years HTMLFusion has been on the project, paid users went from 7,000 a hunt to over 14,580."

Technology and programmers are rarely praised for helping to foster lasting and meaningful human connections. But the Gishwhes interface is a shining example of how technology, and web development specifically, can not only bring people closer in the spirit of goodwill, but it can do so on a very large scale. Gishwhes, through the web platform HTMLFusion created, has inspired people to take to the streets for the sake of friendly competition and camaraderie, and it has left a vast ripple of warmth and hilarity in its wake.

When a force for good like this takes hold, and it has the technological foundation to support its inevitable growth… great things happen.