On Friday afternoon, Jonathan Horowitz saw an iPhone notification and sped to the New University Union, not to get to class or eat food, but to find treasure. Looking under booths in the Marketplace, he found a hidden $10 gift card for the Royal Indian restaurant.
“Whenever I’m not in class and I’m decently close to the location, I always sprint, usually against my friends,” said Horowitz, a junior double-majoring in Judaic studies and English. “It’s really funny to watch us push each other to get to the prize.”
Horowitz found the prize through Campus Pursuit, an app created by Binghamton University students Scott Wisotsky, a senior majoring in political science, and Shachar Avraham, a junior in the individualized major program. The app, which is available for free on Apple and Android devices, gives students clues to hidden prizes donated by local businesses like the GasLamp Gym, Destiny Designs Jewelry and Thai Time. The app is also sponsored by national brands including Dormify, ZULA and Back to the Roots.
The two released the treasure hunt app in January at BU, but are now expanding it to include other college campuses across the state such as Ithaca College, Cornell University and SUNY Albany.
“Students started emailing us saying their friends play Campus Pursuit at Binghamton, and asked if they could start it at their school,” Wisotsky said.
Each campus has its own Campus Pursuit team of three to four organizers that manage the application, with three to five prizes hidden per day from Monday to Friday.
According to Avraham, the duo made changes to the app over the summer to make it easier to use and accommodate its growth.
“Since we started, the app has changed a lot,” Avraham said. “You can now create your own account and choose your school, and there a lot of other user-friendly features that we’ve added.”
Other new features include QR scanning when a participant finds a prize as well as related deals, which allow students to obtain coupons or deals at sponsoring businesses, even if they don’t find the treasure. The winner scans the prize when they’ve found it, so users know that that prize has been found.
The popularity of Campus Pursuit doesn’t just excite students, but helps businesses in the community as well, like Down to Earth Whole Foods in Endicott, one of the app’s sponsors.
“I think it’s a great way to connect to students who might not venture off campus other that what the blue-bus line might provide,” Johan Bergfjord, the store’s owner wrote in an email. “Even if the students have their own transportation, they might not go past the Vestal parkway or downtown Binghamton. Finding a gift [certificate] provides the incentive to venture beyond a student’s comfort zone if they’re excited about their prize.”
With the growth of Campus Pursuit across New York, Wisotsky and Avraham said they look forward to future expansion.
“We see ourselves revolutionizing the college marketing industry,” Wisotsky said. “We want to be at many schools around the country, and maybe even running treasure hunts in cities.”
Despite the expansions, Avraham said the concept of Campus Pursuit remains simple and rewarding.
“It’s an amazing feeling to hide a gift card, and knowing a random person found it,” Avraham said. “We have made advertising to college students a game students love to play.”
See previous article on Campus Pursuits here