Chat: What Have Been Your Favorite 2014 Badges?

Hey Gamers, so you know how you guys are CRUSHING the Summer Game this year? Record numbers of players, of badges, of codes, of points, of EVERYTHINGS? Since you seem to be so enjoying the Summer Game so much, we thought this would be a good time to ask you a little about what you ARE liking so much!

The AADL Summer Game crew got to talking about badges and we were wondering what YOUR favorite badges have been this year. What did you like about them? Clever clues? Interesting things you learned? Great game codes?

What about your families? What about your friends? What badges are THEY loving this year? WHY?

Ready to sate our curiousity? GO!


My favourite badges have been the Cryptid Cryptography ones - they combine my love of codes with my other favourite area of study, mythological creatures. They're a lot of fun to puzzle out, and the bonuses add an extra layer of excitement.

I'm also fond of the Constellation Consternation badges, and the Unearthed Unearthlies badges.

Park Explorer badges are my absolute favorites! Excited to try the UMMA one too. I like the idea of getting out and about and exploring things I might not otherwise do.

Another vote for the Park Explorer badges - I have driven by the entrance to Mary Beth Doyle park for *years* and never even realized it was back there!

Though the "Muskrat View" code for the Pittsfield branch was also a huge favorite - we not only saw muskrats from the library window, we saw a giant (and rather scary looking) snapping turtle swimming right there.

The Park Explorer badges are my family's favorite. After that, I always enjoy browsing, so I enjoyed "You Can Learn a Lot from Lydia".

Badges like Pokemon and Plant vs Zom-badges were difficult because I'm not familiar with the manga or video games, so it definitely was a great way to introduce me to both.

I love earning badges because it's a chance to learn something I didn't know. I generally love trivia, even if it's not incredibly clever. Cleverness most of the time provides a nice laugh or wink, There have been some times it's been a bit of an eye roll -- though isn't that always the case with cleverness?

Outside of the Park Explorer series, my family doesn't have a favorite badge set. My 3.5 year old helps type search words into the catalog, or asks Siri for wikipedia-like clues. I try to preview badges before completing badges with with preschooler so we don't run into too many inappropriate/uncomfortable conversations since we are heavily into the WHY? WHY? WHY? stage.

As always, thank you for working so hard on the summer game!

I've liked pretty much all of the badges! Although I've only done 2 so far, I hope to do more of the Park Explorer badges. I like the fact that the Polkemania badges are a little longer and tougher than most the others. It was also fun to learn about terrariums through the Terrific Terrariums badge, then go to the workshop on Sunday!

The Constellation Consternation series is probably my favorite. I like reading about their mythologies and back stories in in the wiki pages.

I would also like to give a special shout-out to the photoshopper of the Polkemania badges - it looks like Charizard is rocking/wailing it out with that accordion.

I would have to say the park explorer badges would be my favorite and my kids like them also. We went on a picnic to Barton nature area and we used our picnic blanket from last years summer game along with the cooler from last year. It was like an AADL sponsored picnic. I also like the badges for rating items and for reviews. Granted some people just type tiny one or two word reviews but others write very useful ones. I also like the star rating because it helps me decide things to request.

Wow it would be hard to saw which ones are my favorite ones. I think this years have all been a whole lot of fun! Like everyone else the Park Explorer ones are amazing. I would be great to get the whole town out and about exploring all 154 parks or green areas in Ann Arbor. I also really enjoy the old news hunts. It was fun to learn about all the ghosts we have!
I'd love to make one of the player pick badges but don't know how???

Another vote for the Constellation Consternation series -- I'm a fan of astronomy and I quite enjoyed learning about the back stories of stars, asterisms, and DSOs.

I enjoy the Cryptography and the Constellation series. The Constellations because that's a topic I'm interested in and the Cryptography because I'm learning about different ciphers. I also LOVE the park explorer badges. I haven't had a chance to do most of them, but I'm hoping to get around to it before my time runs out.

I really liked the Park Badges this year and last year. This year I am liking the Cryptic Cryptography badges. They really make me think!

If you ask my 5 and 6 year old kids, the Angry Birds badge wins hands down. We went to the event expecting to lob some balls at stuffed animals so we couldn't believe all the craft opportunities and how we ran into friends from all areas of our past -- preschool, church, baby classes, etc.
If you ask me, I would say the park explorer ones are our family favorites. They encourage us to take a free, active outing to places we haven't been before. Writing down the codes has been great for my boys to practice their writing. I applaud the library for all its creativity, coordination, and sense of fun with this ambitious community game. It has helped create some fun memories for us this summer. Thank you!

Angry Bird Badge and Mer-Mayday are absolute favorites with my children. I really liked the Park Explorer badges. It gave our family an opportunity to visit parks that we had not thought of visiting before. We really enjoyed the outings. Although some park trails were "spooky" according to my children, they liked going to a new park and looking at plants and animals. I never realized AA had so many trails for walkers. Oh! I also enjoyed the Pop Music through the decades badges and Surfs Up. I knew some of the answers but if it weren't for the badges I probably wouldn't have looked for most of these music/musicians. Thank you, AADL for this opportunity!

To the people who are interested in writing a badge, do it! It's fun. I've written a couple, and the library vets them before posting them. It might be nice to have an off-season badge-writing workshop. There are a lot more parks out there to explore!

Does the library post photos somewhere? I've noticed photographers at some of the events, but rarely see the photos.

@sdunav - Yay! My "Muskrat View" code did exactly what I'd hoped it would do - it got people paying even more attention to the pond out the window and viewing some of the amazing wildlife out there. :) I'm glad you were able to see the muskrats & the snapping turtle. I enjoy watching them when I'm stationed at Pittsfield.

I enjoy so many of them that it's hard to choose!

I really enjoy the park explorer badges as it gets me out of my comfort zone and into parks I don't know much about. I usually split my time between Parker Mill (my favorite), Lillie Park & Gallup, so to have badges for things like Dolph Nature Area or Barton Nature Area which I wouldn't necessarily go to on my own, has been good at expanding my horizons.

I also really enjoyed the Pattern Familiars badge where you had to look through the JUMP brochure to find the various everyday items in the pictures. I like it when pictures have little hidden things in them that if you don't look closely at them, you might miss the object.

I was thrilled with the Waterloo badge. I had really hoped it would include a reference to one of my favorite movies and it didn't disappoint. A lot of my co-workers were all stumped on that one, but I knew what it was right away because it's a movie I've seen oh... more times than I can count.

The Angry Birds badge was a lot of fun. I was at the event as a staff helper and it was great to see the kids and even some of the grown-ups having fun launching the "birds" at the piggies and cheering on other players.

Finally, I have to say the Wild Kingdom ones are also a lot of fun for me as I love the natural world and learning about various animals not to mention many of the ones that have been chosen are animals I really like.

I liked the Cryptid Cryptography badges, since decoding everything is fun and reminds me of Treasure Quest

My favorite badges have been the ones that take me to Old News! I love exploring that site and seeing all of the old pictures of our town.

I've only done 3 badges. It's fun to figure out the clues. It's nice to read the other recommendations. I'll focus on the recommended badges next.

Park Explorer badges are my absolute favorites. I also like the branch explorer badges. All of them are fun, but it's great to do the ones that make you discover all different parts of the city and that the whole family can do together.

From the 7 yr old:
Angry birds
Ice cream
Park explorer

From Mom:
Museum (though missing last one!)
Old News
Park explorer, though I would wish more were available by bus

I've enjoyed the Bunny Hop and Unearthed Unearthlies

generally, anything video game related. so polkamanias, the neverending chase, etc.

I have really enjoyed the park badges and Angry Birds, because both were activities that my family could do together. I will say that I have found it fairly hard to follow the directions given in the park badges. We couldn't even find the correct entrance to one, and several others have included vague directions that we misinterpreted, resulting in some frustration and wandering the wrong way. I think it would be helpful in the future to include clearer directions than terms like "main path," or "take the path into the woods," or other things that are subject to interpretation. Some parks have markings (numbered posts, for example) that could have been referenced.

There have been a few badges that my kids could work on with minimal help, such as the berry badge and the zombadge, but otherwise the clues often referenced things they were unfamiliar with or adult themed things. I think they found the old news ones workable as well. I have been pushed to complete the contributor badges by my kids.

I have enjoyed more the activities than searching the catalog after several years of doing this. Some of the clues are very hard to find because the clues are misleading or unclear (e.g. using the [incorrect] term "brussel sprouts" or not hinting at the actual thing being sought). It's easy for it to become tedious and good for someone who likes to click through and churn things out (all the one sentence or one word reviews, for example), and I think the activities help avoid that. I also have encountered other game players at the library and at parks, but wish there was a more communal spirit to this. I almost feel stalkerish if I talk to another person clutching their badge clues, or as if we're not supposed to talk. Why not a kick-off party, and then meetings throughout the summer? There could be activities, promotion of library events, and chitchat between players. We could share our favorite books, movies, CDs, talk about park passes and online databases. Why not a way for us to interact? It would make it less like a series of parallel solitaire games. After all, the point of playing games is often for the players to have fun together.

I think if AADL is reframing the concept of the library, then there should be a decrease in the hierarchical structure. Many library activities feel like something someone is giving us to do by ourselves all at the same time, from toddler storytime to kids' crafts and so on, instead of somethg that is building connections in the community in a really effective way.

The foodie badges! So fun! Any badge that has me searching for kombucha and kraut... :)

My personal favorites were the POLKemania badges. They were some fun, interesting connections with pokemon names and music.

I liked the Revolutionary Shores Badge that dropped on July 4th. I spent a long time reading about the famous inaccuracies in Leutze's painting. Thank you!

Park Explorer badges are my family's favorites. We've explored parks that we've never even visited in our many years in Ann Arbor.

Great stuff that we look forward to each week.

I've enjoyed the Dynamic Duos series. I think in general I most like badges where I'm familiar enough with something that it gets me started and makes me feel knowledgeable, and then I dig deeper and start learning something new. I still like to search through the catalog occasionally because I wind up discovering things I've never heard of but then want to read,or rediscover things I've forgotten about and want to see or read again, or introduce to my children. I mean, I never would have thought to look for and read a book about the former Jacobson's department stores if I hadn't stumbled upon it searching for who knows which code.

On another note, does anyone know if we will be told where to find Terranuims around town, or if we just need to discover them?

Love the park explorer badges! We want more of those!!!

What a great thread. I have really enjoyed seeing so many new players sharing their experience.

I think @willow has offered some great suggestions. It would be nice to have more in person interaction with the other players. It's not always easy to spot another player at events, and does feel kind of weird to walk up to a random person. Maybe aadl can offer name tags (design matching the summer game theme, or even the standard, hello my name is...) at events. I wouldn't feel so weird walking up to a fellow gamer who was wearing a name tag with their handle. I am looking forward to the wrap party so I can hopefully connect faces to handles.

I love that the summer game continues to evolve. It would be wonderful if we had an occasional meetup...kind of like the opportunity we got to speak at the board meeting, except less official and more of a dialogue. I am sure all of these ideas take a lot of time to organize, so hopefully they are possibilities to consider for next summer, and the players interested in helping can volunteer some time for the game we love!

Same with us! On the other badges, I'm finding if I get stuck to leave it alone for a couple of days and when I come back and re-read the clues, I eventually get it.

@sara - Yeah! That one was really interesting! And it made me want to get a print of that painting because I actually know something about it.

I enjoy the video game themed ones. The mario themed badge actually led me to check out King of Kong. I find that a lot of the things I am finding are interesting to me, and I will check them out at the library.

This is my first time on summer game I'm so happy. It's amazing and help me too much improving my english. Thanks aadl!

My favorite badge is the dr Seuss one I love dr Seuss and I never new the story of how he wrote the cat and the hat until now

I love the ones where we can go out and do things, instead of sitting at the computer all day. I used to do the catalog search badges, but then I realized that they were causing me to stay inside too long!
The park explorer ones are the best. Has there been scavenger hunts we could do Downtown? That would be great.

I'm loving all of the puzzle ones and the park explorers. For the new talking ones posted today, could those be expanded to include posting a picture to the AADL facebook page? I don't use twitter or instagram, and don't really want to make an account for this.

Death Worm By The Numbers was a fun one! Especially the haiku!

34782 452 12345 67890!
9704 09384!
67890 92 52385!

@mtrax - If you aren't on Instagram or Twitter and still want to send in photos, send them to or! Thanks for playing!

The County Farm Badge is my favorite and I haven't even gotten it yet! But it's my very favorite park EVER

I am also really enjoying the cryptic cryptography badge set!

which cipher ?


The newest badge dropped on Friday.

I really enjoyed the Chomped The Shark Badges and the Bizarre Botany Badges! I learned so much more about plants and the making of how some of the tastiest foods are made!!


You can click on the terrarium badges to see where they are located.

A vote from our house for games within The Game, along the lines of the Treasure Quest and Secret Shop tokens. It causes daily pangs of sorrow for years past that these subgames are no longer active.

Also, what exactly is the point of points-o-matic, and could it be arranged that "extra" players could participate? And what does one do with points that cannot be spent? We await your response, as it has been the subject of exhaustive (if not exhausting) discussion.

I wish to have a vote on if off-season games (meaning Treasure Quest, mostly) should always be active.
Me: Yes because I really want to complete it and it should be available as a challenge to those who might just have discovered the wonders of AADL games.

My absolute favorite badges are the ones that get me out of the house and exploring places that I might not otherwise have gone: Park Explorer, Branch Explorer, Terrarium Hysterium, etc. This summer I am also really enjoying the Constellation Consternation and You Can Learn a Lot from Lydia badge series. Keep up the great work AADL Summer Game Team!

We love so many of this year's different badges, but our favorites are the Park Explorer and Cryptography! Thank you for providing such a wonderful resource.

Thanks for getting me back to County Farm Park. I haven't been there in years, even though it's just up the road from me. Last time I was there it was pretty much just trails. So many improvements have been done with a GREAT playground. After getting all the codes we spent an hour at the playground. The best part was as the end my almost three year old said "Mom, can I go okay now?" I said "yes" he said "THANK YOU!" and took of running. It was great! We'll be back more often now.

I agree with this completely! I have found out new things about my town!

I love the Branch Explorer badges! It has been so fun to go from branch to branch playing the game - I've seen parts of the city where I don't usually go, and noticed new things at each branch. For instance, I hadn't known that there was an underground parking garage at Traverwood.

@AprilCDB - I'm planning to check that park off my list soon. Does the playground have any equipment for (very) little kids?


How little are the kids in question? County Farm has a sand "box" area where little kids can dig around in (bring your own sand tools) and another area has a small tractor structure with a mini-slide and barn structure that should work for toddlers:

I love the music badges!! And the cryptography ones too!

Thanks for replying! We will email the pictures.

Love the botany badges love plants, also the constellations

Hard to pick but Bizarre Botany and I Learned a Lot from Lydia are probably my favorite series. Nice to learn new stuff. As are most, I am also a big fan of the explorer badge series. But individually, the Death Worm badge was great.

Speaking of the I Learned a Lot from Lydia Badges, who is Lydia?

Undoubtedly, a tattoed lady ;-)

I love all the badges. Some I love because they are challenging, some are fun because it let's me look at books, music, and movies I may not have known about. Others I love because it gets me and my family out of the house. I do find that the ones that use other websites or the JUMP are fun, too. I just love trying to figure them out! I thought the terrarium badges were fun and cute. So many fun badges! Taking selfies, going to parks, using the catalog... there truly is something for everyone!

The Cryptid Cryptography ones are my favorites-- even though it takes a little more work to make the cipher cheat sheets.

Also any game codes with thought-out puns-- it's nice when you can see someone put time into thinking of something clever to put there!

The music badges have been fun, but the park explorer badges are the best. My young adult daughters and I have really enjoyed exploring the parks and we're looking forward to going to the grad library.

@beeniepie - I am looking for equipment for toddlers. We were there a couple days ago and tried out some of the stuff around the tractor. Where is the sand box area? Do you mean the sand between the red equipment and the garden entrance?

@SBNB, the park was great. My son is not yet 3 and had a blast there. I saw lots of small children there. It has the soft padding around the equipment. So yes, I'd say its age appropriate for very small kids too.

The Lydia badges are my favorite, and not just because they began with a Kate Beaton reference. The Constellation ones are a close second.

I like the idea of the Park and other exploration badges, but I'm mostly housebound so I really appreciate that there's a variety in each badge drop. :)

I was going to ask the same thing! I think Lydia must be a very knowledgeable person on various parts of history, educated the staff, and had a badge series named in her honor.

I have been loving the Polkemania badges- they are fiendishly difficult and a lot of fun. I knew absolutely nothing about Pokemon OR polka at the beginning of the summer and now I know a little (tiny bit) about both. Shout-out to the cryptid cryptography and park explorer badges as well. For a relative newcomer to Ann Arbor, the park badges are great- I didn't realize we had so much green space!

My favorite badges have been the animal kingdom ones.

I really like the twig terraiums badges!

I see that more people are commenting after commenting badges are released. I think that commenting badges will be available every summer, so for those who only start commenting around now it's fine to start commenting at the beginning of SG since those comments will count towards the badges...

Some of those outdoor badges are tough! Especially the Dolph one. Got lost a few times only to realize we skipped ahead somehow. I've got one left, and I plan on getting that on Friday. The branch badges have all been very fun. It's always fun to see families wandering around getting the codes, although I feel a bit silly as I'm not playing the game with kids .

Re County Farm Park: I find the play structure is too big for toddlers; it's very high, so the ladders are scary for all but the most intrepid toddlers. There are, however, a little house that kids can go into and a train [tractor?] that can be climbed inside of (with stairs, and underbelly, and a wheel for steering), and several bouncing creatures to ride. They used to have the pig available for climbing on, but it's now behind a fence. I seem to remember that there used to be water to play in, but I don't think that's still there. There are also swings, but not, I don't think, the toddler type: just one chair type and the rest are regular swings. The adjoining sidewalk is often used for chalk, and there are lots of benches to picnic at.

I hadn't gone back to the trails in years, and they seem much more interesting than I remember them from then.

My roommate and I LOVE the park explorer badges! We just came back from the UMMA, and we plan on going to the Matthei Botanical Gardens soon!

So far the "Bashful Biblical Beasts" badge is a favorite, along with all the other Cryptid Cryptography series of badges. Learning cryptography is a fun way to engage with the catalog searches.

The Barton Nature Area badge was fun as well. I've driven past that park countless times and never stopped to explore. The whole family had a great time.

My favorite badge from this year was the Bacon Me Crazy Badge

The park explorer ones have been my favorite!

I'd love to write a badge, but it would have to be a catalog one. How can we submit ideas or anything for future badges? I might've missed posts about that.

You can write a badge and send it to You know the format from playing the game. Write the clue, give the link to the item in the catalog (you can cut and paste this info), the code, and then the next clue.

Animal badges and once I get there the park badges!

More Hufflepuff!

Spending time with the family and learning about books, movies and cds we didn't even know existed!

Ok, I'm adding the ice cream badge. I discovered a new local ice cream shop that I now LOVE. Salted Caramel, yum!

Thank you, Sara. I hope to get around to putting one together. Might be a good winter project.

@ Fevvers

I suggested a winter badge-making workshop at the library and was told that the catalog changes too much to make badges so far in advance. But, really, all you would have to do is double-check your badge before submitting it to in the summer. It might even be helpful to the library to have people submit badges over the winter so they would be ready to go when the game begins. Park explorer badges could also be written over the winter using clues that are permanent. Or, as many have requested, a natural history museum badge would be prefect to write during the winter.

Thank you for the tips, Sara. I am not very mobile so park exploration is definitely not something I can do. But yes, doing an outline and then double-checking it with the catalog later sounds like it could work.