How to Improve a Corn Maze

My husband and I were up at Harvest Farm in Wellington, CO yesterday. The Farm is operated by Denver Rescue Mission as a long-term rehabilitation and recovery program for substance abusers and the homeless. The annual festival welcomes guests to come visit the working farm and enjoy pumpkins, petting zoos, pig races and of course, the corn maze.

As we dashed through the Maze this year, I negotiated the map with a pen to keep track of all our turns (last year I didn’t do this and we were lost for a couple hours). As we exited, I had the thought: What if the basic Corn Maze could be improved?

A basic Maze is cut into acreage of corn, leaving meandering and wandering paths that intersect and loop from a central starting point. Many have a design that’s viewable by air. You’re given a basic paper map at the beginning and you go get lost and try to find your way out. The Maze at the Farm also features punch card stops. Get all 12 and you get a coupon off a t-shirt.

So what if we included a bit of technology into our new and improved Maze? How do we make the adventure more interesting? This is already happening on some level with software like this.

But is this all we could do? What if we added a new level of tech?

As we exited the Maze, my first instinct was ask, What if each participant used a Corn Maze app on their smartphone instead of a paper map? Almost every family has at least one smartphone on hand when in a Corn Maze, so having the app available is not impossible.

In addition to the phone map, QR codes can also be used to further interact with the Corn Maze itself. Within the Maze could be signs with QR codes, triggering different actions when scanned with the App.

Taking a nod from dungeon-based video games, we could make each stop part of the game experience. For example, perhaps at one stop you earn your Compass, a gps dot indicating where you’re at on the Map. At another, you find a “Little Old Man” who tells you where the secret passage to heart of the Maze is (and where the point jackpot is located). Some stops could have simple puzzles and riddles to solve on the phone. Others might have bad guys to battle like Pokemon Go.

Another beauty of QR check-ins is the ability to track how long it takes to complete the Maze–and now we can offer prizes and bragging rights for fastest run every day. We also can better track the Maze’s popularity, how many people are completing it, how far are they completing, how many are quitting, and do folks do it in “order” or not. All this data can be used the following year to design an even better Corn Maze, improving the user experience.

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