Puzzle adventures right now

UK map by Randall Munroe, xkcd.com, Creative Commons licence: http://xkcd.com/license.html

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The xkcd comic is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License; let’s hope that the author’s blog, from where the map comes, is too.

  • Ken pointed to “A puzzle for the UK” earlier today, a two-stage hunt released by Randall Munroe of xkcd comic fame to celebrate the launch of his new book, Thing Explainer. The first stage appears to be a traditional armchair treasure hunt, with hints to locations in five UK cities (London, Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol and Edinburgh); visiting the locations, or sending a location’s details by e-mail to the publisher, reveals the second stage of the hunt, about which less is known. Spoilers have been posted to the first stage locations, but people appear to be keeping the second part secret as requested.
     
    Prizes will include signed copies of Thing Explainer and limited-edition posters and mobiles. There will also be one very special first prize.” The book is written using only a set of ten hundred frequently-used English language words, notably excluding “thousand”, and some of the text of the hunt is as well. Go quickly, for the results are set to be published in about a week and a half.
     
  • Ken also pointed to Incredible Midtown: The Game, a live action walking tour hunt taking place through the “Midtown” (Bloomsbury, Holborn and St Giles) section of London.
     
    To get to the end, you must unravel a series of fiendish clues, solve perplexing puzzles and immerse yourself in three centuries of London history. Roam amid fine Georgian buildings, Jagger and Bowie’s favourite haunts and the sly pickpockets of the St Giles rookery. Teams of friends and strangers must collaborate with you to uncover the drama and fascinating past of this ever-intriguing corner of the capital. ((…)) Characters from Dickens novels will wander around town as you find the clues and try to solve the mystery of Midtown. ((…)) The 90 minute game will run for five weeks from November 9 to December 11. Monday to Friday only. Tickets are £12 per person and must be booked in advance.
     
    As well as being a live hunt and thus interesting, there is a more direct exit game connection here: Escape in Time, the company behind the very popular Secret Studio London, refer to it as their next adventure. An excellent heritage!
     
  • An exciting event taking place north of San Francisco is The Headlands Gamble, as discussed on the Puzzle Hunters community on Google+ and the Puzzle Hunters group on Facebook. The game advertises itself as “an extraordinary weekend trip for two with a thrilling storyline woven through it. You and a partner will be the detectives in an immersive mystery story set amidst some of the most beautiful locations in the North Bay. You’ll drive from location to location in a custom car, meeting characters, unearthing clues and following leads while experiencing all that Marin County has to offer.” It’s not cheap at US$1,950 for two players, but that covers the cost of “a beautiful rental car; one bedroom at a homey hotel by the seaside; all your meals, each at a highlight local venue; an itinerary of out-of-the way sights, planned for you; a two-day long theatrical experience just for you“.
     
    Reports suggest it’s more of a detective experience than a puzzle experience, but if you want a troupe of actors to put on a two-day-long interactive show just for an audience of two, this might be the state of the art. People have hinted at the famous Punchdrunk immersive theatre company putting on travel experiences, but there is not yet evidence of this being widely available; The Headlands Gamble is a game that the well-heeled don’t have to wait to play.

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