Geert Pingen @gpgn

Cloud & Machine Learning Engineer, Research Scientist
Waar is de Pinguin 2018


The goal of the race is to find the penguin as quick as possible, together with your team. A series of tasks and puzzles guide the participants along step by step, leading up to reveal the final location of the penguin. Whenever one team has found the solution to a certain task, it will become available to other teams as well with some delay, in order to prevent teams from being stuck on a task indefinitely. The puzzles combine digital with physical components, and provides a great personal outlet to dive into new technology and build engaging puzzle experiences (often with amazing support from friends).

Figure 1. WIDP logo.

Figure 1. WIDP logo.


Participants were randomly grouped into teams and received a message to make a team picture in order to receive the first task. However, they did not know yet who their team mates were.

Twitch plays

All participants were given a link to a Twitch channel, a video streaming platform. There, they could see a livestream broadcasting live footage from an RC-car mounted camera. In the spirit of Twitch Plays, participants could collaboratively move the RC-car in real time around an obstacle course. Chat input like left, right, forward, backward, etc. was sent to a server and averaged every couple of seconds. The averaged direction would then be sent to the car and executed. In this way, the car would navigate its way (rather chaotically) through the obstacle course. Along the obstacle course were small posters that showed a team and its members.

In due time, participants found out whom their teammates were, and left the livestream to make a group picture. They were then presented with the next task.

Figure 2. Twitch-controlled car with mounted camera for livestreaming.

Figure 2. Twitch-controlled car with mounted camera for livestreaming.

Fair play

Teams were given an image with 2 rows of coloured pixel formations. When overlayed on top of eachother, the yellow pixels would spell "Pinguin". This was the key to decrypt the ciphertext denoted at the bottom. A note asking the teams to play fair pointed the teams towards the use of the FAIRPLAY cipher.

The deciphered text directed the teams to travel towards Utrecht.

Figure 3. FAIRPLAY cipher puzzle.

Figure 3. FAIRPLAY cipher puzzle.

Crossword chaos

When they arrived in Utrecht (and made another team photo there), teams were given a crossword puzzle, with questions like This shop is positioned opposite of HEMA, or This shop is 3 places to the right of the answer you gave at no. 6. The answers to each row were names of shops in and around the train station, prompting the teams to navigate the busy train station as quickly as possible.

The answer to the crossword was "Nijntje", which led the teams to the Nijntje Museum in Utrecht. There, an envelope could be collected at the counter upon saying the passphrase "Where is the penguin?".


Inside each envelope was a sheet of paper containing a matrix of numbers, a black pen, and a single die. The die was a clue, as most numbers were multiples of 6. When the participants would blot out all numbers that were not multiples of 6 (e.g. left a remainder after n mod 6), a QR code would emerge.


Upon scanning the QR code, participants would be presented with a fake instagram account of a local fishing club Visclub de Grachtkarper. The account was filled with photos of fishing activities, except one. This was an image with maritime flags, spelling "KIJKINPEN", or "LOOKINPEN". The pen that they had received earlier contained a photograph. This was a photograph of a specific area in the city centre. If the teams were able to locate it and send a team photo, they would receive the next task.

Figure 4. Instagram account.

Figure 4. Instagram account.


This was a simple puzzle, a picture with 4 barrels of oil, pointing them towards the location of the final task: Olivier.


The final challenge was a music task. A musically-gifted friend had recorded basslines of a number of famous songs. If participants could guess the song title and performing artists they had the ingredients to solve the final puzzle, which consisted of reorderring the letters of each of their answers. Finally, this gave them the name of a specific beer which, when ordered, revealed the penguin and brought them victory.