Treasure Hunters

Gamified community event for children

Oct 2018 - Nov 2018
Academic Project | Fayuan Community, Beijing, China


Urban Interaction Design, Event Design, Interactive Technology


concept designer, interaction designer, programmer, graphic designer


Fayuan Temple is a historical community in Xijiao Hutong in Beijing. What makes Fayuan Community is even more special is that there's a historical temple in the community. As the city has modernized rapidly, the Hutong community has turned into an over-crowded area. As such, residents could not fully appreciate and connect to the historical culture and buildings around them.

Design Goal

I want to explore a new way to improve the life of Hutong residents with participatory and urban interaction design, thus, revitalize the historical culture of the FayuanSi.

Treasure Hunters Concept

The “Treasure Hunters” is a gamified community event for children who lived at the Fayuan Community based on interactive installation.

By presenting the event as a treasure hunt and introducing components of gamification, I hope that children not only enjoy the event but also that it will encourage them to learn more about the history, culture, and stories of their community.

At the same time, by participating in the treasure hunt with their teammates, the children can strengthen their bonds of friendship with one another. As such, this event should not only be seen as entertainment, but also as a learning process.

Field Research

I started by conducting field research at Fayuan Temple to understand how people live, work, and have fun.

Research discoveries

Shaoxing Assembly Hall

Residence of Lu Xun, the founding father of modern Chinese literature.

Liuyang Assembly Hall

Residence of Tan Sitong, one of the “Six gentlemen of the Hundred Days' Reform”.

Hunan Assembly Hall

Assembly point for Hunan Strike organized by Mao Zedong in 1919.

User Interview

I conducted deep user interviews with the residents in the Fayuan Community, in an effort to understand the way they perceive and participate in community activities and decide the event design direction.

I interviewed 12 residents in the Fayuan Community:

Some kids also accept interviews when I talk with their parents.

Middle aged residents:



Old Buddhists in the Temple:




The kids in the Fayuan Community needs outdoor activities to enrich their extracurricular life and their understanding of the community culture.

What surprised us

We initially thought that parents would hesitate to let their kids participate in our events. However, the kids and young parents showed tremendous enthusiasm and we predict high participation from this user group.


The location for the event should be somewhere popular and characteristic. This will help us attract more event participants.

Design Process


Jason Yang
10-year-old boy

  • Elementary school student in 4th grade.

  • Lives in Fayuan Community.

  • Likes playing badminton with friends in the park in front of Fayuan Temple on Sunday mornings.

  • Active participants in various extracurricular activities.

May Zhang
36-year-old mom

  • Despite her busy work schedule over 50 hours a week, she still manages to spend quality time with her son.

  • She participates in parental workshops with her son one or two times a week.


We want to design a game-based event for the kids in the Fayuan Community to have fun as well as learn about the cultural heritage in the Fayuan Temple.

We pick “treasure hunt” as the theme for the event and constraint the area of the event to the Fayuan Hutong, with the three Assembly Halls as the key locations for the treasure hunt. This way, we can naturally weave in the historical stories into the games and make sure the events are fun and interesting.

During the game, the kids need to partner up with other kids or their parents. They develop a deeper bond through this collaborative treasure hunting activity.

First Iteration

Design shortfall:

If the three “real” pieces end up in three different teams, no team will be able to complete the “real” key and open the treasure box.

Second Iteration

I used physical keys in the first interaction as the media to convey the message to open the treasure box. However, there were number constraints for physical keys due to our limited budget. The limited number of physical keys caused the teams to compete for the same keys, which was not what we intended. What if we could design a virtual key for the treasure box and bypass the resource constraints?

I got inspired by the safety verification puzzle we often see when logging in online:

picture source:

  1. Assemble

    When the game starts, the players assemble at the “base-camp” and receive the Puzzle Cards and Treasure Map.

  2. Look for clues

    Using the information from the map, the players go looking for three clues and assemble the Puzzle Cards and Clue cards to complete the puzzle and obtain the information they need to complete the game.

  3. Open the treasure chest

    From this point the players need to look for the Treasure Chest and open it using the information they obtained from the puzzle.The first players to open the chest then win the treasure.

Puzzle Card
This is the puzzle card that I distribute to players at the beginning of the game. Each puzzle card has one missing piece (the clue cards). The team needs to find the missing piece from the marked locations on the map in order to complete the puzzle and receive clues.

Clue card

Each Clue Card is attached to an Interactive Talking Box that matches with a Puzzle card. When users complete the puzzle with the correct missing piece, the Interactive Talking Box will play a recorded audible story that happened in the assembly hall. This function is powered by Arduino.

Treasure Map
Indicates the location of the Clue Cards and the Treasure Chest.

Treasure Chest
A chest protected with a password which is indicated in the audible story, that contains the treasure.

Event Canvas

Props Development

Puzzle Card

Each Puzzle Card is attached with an NFC(Near Field Communication) chips.

Clue Card & Interactive Talking Box

The Clue Cards are attached on the Interactive Talking Box which is embedded with an NFC module and a speaker.

Sample audible story:

Treasure Chest

Treasure Box questions:

Treasure Chest Questions:

Treasure Map

Designing Promotional Material

The invitation cards can be given to the parents at the event and the banner can be used simply to attract attention during the game! Not only do promotional materials serve as visual identifiers, but they can also help generate excitement for the event.

The promotional banner and the invitation card

Event Day

The First Day

I recruited other classmates at school as volunteers to our event. During the event, we have one volunteer waiting at the treasure box, with the other volunteers recording participants’ behaviors and emotional reactions during the game.

Setting up

We arrived early right after lunch to hide the hints and clues at the Fayuan Community. We also used this time to arranging the base-camp, put up the banner, set up the props and tables.


We have handed out invitation cards for kids and parents who wish to join the game to form a team before the event.


After assembling at the base-camp, we handed out tools to the kids.

Game start

The game started! The kids started looking for the first clue.

Looking for clues

Most students are around 10 years old. They looked confused when going through the rules of the game.


Thus, the parents asked us to lead the kids to find the first clue and complete the first puzzle.

Finding out clue

The kids started to understand how the game works. It took some effort, but the kids were extremely excited when they found the second clue by themselves! by Mao Zedong in 1919.

Cracking the Chest

The first team that found the Treasure Chest successfully cracked the password! However, I noticed that for other participants who didn't find out the Treasure Chest firstly looks upset.


We took pictures with the participants to celebrate their achievement.

Day One Debrief

User Journey Map

I followed participants during the event, and recorded their emotion and reactions in different phases and according to which, I teased out several phases that needed improvements.

User emotional recreations were recorded during the event.

The Second Day

According to the analysis of participants' emotions and pains during the first event day, I did the following improvements on the second event day.

Learning by doing:

I decided to lead all the kids to the first clue and answer any questions they may have along the way.

Consolation Prize:

I prepared gifts for kids who couldn’t manage to open the treasure box.

Optimizing the map:

I redesigned the Treasure Map in an effort to make it more user-friendly by simplifying the map and visualizing the three clue spots

I also added a feedback section to our map, so that the kids can tell us their thoughts after the event.