ConQwest, designed for Qwest Wireless in 2003, was the first ever large-scale use of semacodes, optic codes designed to be scanned by phonecams. A team-based, city-wide treasure-hunt designed for high school students, players went through the city “shooting treasure” with Qwest phonecams and moving their totem pieces to capture territory. The winning team won a $5,000 scholarship for their school. Online, a web site showed the players’ locations and game progress, turning it into a large-scale spectator event.
The game was designed to promote Qwest Wireless mobile phone offerings and was wildly successful. Qwest extended it to 10 US cities, and made it an annual event. In its first year, it drew over 6.4 million earned-media impressions, often featured on the nightly news. It also won a Clio and several other awards.