New: Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, including outside a local cafe

Today was the YABA 2005 treasure hunt game, run by Alexandra Dixon. I volunteered to help out. Game control has to do many things. Scout the course, design puzzles, playtest, print puzzles, set up, run the game, clean up. Wow.

Fortunately, I didn't do much of that today. My tough job: sit outside a cafe and eat some salad and a couple of slices of apple tart. I was manning a "clue hub". Teams were solving puzzles; those puzzles directed them to places around the neighborhood. When they were halfway through the game, they visited me at the cafe to pick up a second batch of clues.

So teams showed up. I handed over clues. I nibbled at my tart and waited for more teams to show up. Meanwhile a crowd of teams built up around the intersection, sitting on bus stop benches and in doorways.

I watched one team. One member had nicked himself with scissors; he was bleeding. He called out for tape. A team member had a tape dispenser mounted on his wrist and handed over some tape for a jury-rigged bandage. Wow, a tape dispenser on his wrist. That guy was ready for anything. That's why they were a master team.

Some non-playing fellows at the next table wanted to know what all the excitement was about. Why were there all these people sitting around solving puzzles? I talked a bit about it. One guy said that he had run some scavenger hunt games in NYC. I asked if it was the Haystack Game; it wasn't. He'd just run some little games for friends. I wrote down Alexandra's URL on a piece of paper and handed it to him so he could get links to local games. Moving from NYC to San Francisco is no excuse to give up gaming.

Wesley Chan sat down at a chair across the table from me. Wes was also volunteering--he was bicycling along the course, snapping photos. He looked really tired, more tired than I would have expected. What was up with Wesley? Oh, he was moving this weekend. He was moving to Noe Valley. Eventually he forced himself back up to his feet; he was back in photo-taking mode. As for me, I went back to my tart.

I munched and looked around. I saw people solving puzzles. They seemed to be concentrating; they seemed to be having a good time. A week before, I'd been on a plane to Tennessee to attend a funeral. This was more fun. I hoped to attend more puzzle hunts and fewer funerals in the near future.

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Posted 2005-10-15