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Today I handed out puzzle pieces for Shinteki. If you're a SF-area puzzle nerd, you probably perked up when you read that and though Aw FOMO, I better not have missed a Shinteki event. Settle down: this wasn't a puzzle aimed at puzzle nerds. This was an activity for a TEDx event. There were hundreds of attendees, few of them puzzlers. The idea was that they'd collaborate on solving the puzzle. How do you design a puzzle to be solved by so many people? Now that I've watched the Shinteki folks in action, I have some idea. And I also know that isn't the only tricky part. In real time, they had to figure out which pieces of information to give the players. Players "earned" bits of the puzzle by carrying out tasks. Depending on how confident GC was that someone would solve this beast in time, GC could reward players with bigger or smaller bits of the puzzle. It sounds impossible, but after having watched them in action, I think I have some idea of how to read a crowd's reaction to a puzzle. It was kind of tricky since these weren't puzzlers, though. Some of them sounded pretty baffled, but it was just because they hadn't encountered something like this before. Once you told them they were looking for a secret message, they hunkered down. But some of them stayed baffled. What if they had all stayed baffled? I guess in practice that doesn't really happen for large crowds. Assuming you're not running the puzzle tent at the clueless circus, some members of the audience will pick up on what's going on. It's the law of averages or something.

Tags: puzzle scene

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