Giant Wordsearch Puzzle

PROJECT OVERVIEW

The lead for the buildout of a tech company headquarters said, “We have a wall that’s a little more than 20 feet high and just as wide. I need you to do something really cool with it.” Mission accomplished.

Tricia Macmanus, creative director        Royce Stewart, Eric Johnson, Ernest Flores, layout and design

Cold Fire Signs, print & installation

wordsearch

2009 Guinness Book of World Records
25,112 letters • More than 4,000 hidden words • All of the words consist of 4 (+ ) letters

Initial brainstorming sessions yielded everything from an oversized sudoku to connect the dots and crossword puzzle, but those proved impractical as they wouldn’t actually allow for interaction because of the height of the wall. When the idea was presented for a wordsearch, work began on what size letters would be viewable from a distance. After realizing just how large this was going to turn out, research began on what the existing world record was and what it would take to beat it. There were three important items of discovery: 1)the record was more about the number of words and letters and less about the physical size; 2)the words all had to be made up of four or more letters; and 3)the puzzle had to be contiguous, as in, multiple smaller puzzles couldn’t just be stacked around each other.

A word list was generated that included some terms near and dear to the company’s values and brand. An algorithm was developed to place the word list randomly into a contiguous large puzzle — generating a raw file of letters. Because the width of the letters in an individual font varies (compare an “A” to an “I” for example in a sans serif font), the 25, 112 letters in this raw file had to be individually placed in columns and rows, aligning as the buildout progressed. A key was produced that gave coordinates for each word in the hidden word list. A web page was built so that employees could log in and enter a word when one was found. If it had already been found by another employee, the program indicated so. A leaderboard displayed which employees found the most hidden words.

The application process for the Guinness World Record was tedious and lengthy, but was well worth the moment in time that it created. A party with Guinness beer and appetizers utilizing Guinness beer was held to commemorate the momentous occasion.