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A New App “About Town” — PortQuest

An experiential mobile app that's both fun and educational.

If you’ve been in Portsmouth on a nice day, you’ve seen them, the couple—of just about any age, with or without children hanging on to hands or hems—looking at a map and then up and down or around, gesturing this way and that.  This phenomenon has been on the increase as another expands: The cementing of Portsmouth as a destination. After all, Portsmouth is fun, with lots of cool stuff (historic, dramatic, horticultural, nautical, musical, gastronomical, mixological; you get the idea…) to do. To take best advantage of that, Graphic Details, as part of our celebration of 25 years in business in Portsmouth, put our always-creative heads together and came up with PortQuest.  It’s a mobile app, a new-tech, fun and informative way to make finding Portsmouth’s more noteworthy and entertaining places a memorable and challenging adventure.

How does it work?

PortQuest uses cool, unusual (and rhyming!) clues to guide users to various locations around town. At each location, you’ll solve a puzzle to unlock the next limerick-like clue. Follow along to…where it leads you! It has all the components of a game (You can play for time, losing time if you get the answer wrong—and potentially walking the plank!  There’s even a “leaderboard” the keeps track of the fastest players.), but also allows for leisurely explorations of the places you’ve discovered. It’s fun, and for a good cause: The suggested donations users make for the app will go to Cross Roads House, a local non-profit homeless housing center.

A new way to celebrate

We decided to celebrate our 25th year in business with a fundraising event. “We wanted to do something to give back to the Portsmouth community.” Brenda Riddell, owner and creative director at Graphic Details, describes the inspiration for PortQuest: “We tossed around event and fundraising ideas, and the idea of a ‘quest’ around town to teach visitors and residents more about the city’s history resonated with everyone and fit in with the theme of our long-standing Seacoast presence.” “In addition,” Brenda says, “we’ll be selling the Portsmouth poster Nat designed in the Seacoast Repertory Theater lobby, with all proceeds going directly to the Seacoast Rep.”  The “Nat” in question is one of our designers, Nathaniel Parker Raymond, who was interested in learning more about animation and hybrid mobile app-building. “I’ve learned a lot about structuring not only the functionality but the workflow—the kind of knowledge that I think you only acquire by doing, often repeatedly,” he says with a laugh. “Figuring out the elements and functions and how they’ll interact has been pretty interesting!”  That includes assembling the historical facts, and creating the clues and rhymes that make PortQuest fun and edifying. In addition to very coolly leading users through downtown, PortQuest provides “some historical and informational tidbits about each location, too,” Nat adds.

Where will it take you? What will you learn?

Download the app for iPhone here and find out!

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