Hidden within the storied halls of the Upper Wolverhampton Library in Victorian-era England, a musty book lies in wait, ready to entrap the first hapless souls to peer into its pages. While Colleen and Samuel Quaice fall victim to The Maze of Games, it’s up to you, the reader, to lead the two children home by solving a series of puzzles presented by the book’s enigmatic skeletal guardian, the Gatekeeper.
The Maze of Games is a full-length puzzle novel that follows the adventures of the Quaice siblings as they make their way through the Gatekeeper’s labyrinth. While traditional Choose Your Own Adventure novels direct readers through branching narratives through a series of choices, The Maze of Games‘s “solve your own adventure” format directs readers through the experience through the same series of puzzles facing the Quaices. Solving the puzzle unlocks the page number of the next narrative installment. Illustrated by Magic: The Gathering illustrator Pete Venters, the book is designed to look and feel like a book from the Victorian Era.
The puzzle adventure’s author Mike Selinker launched a Kickstarter campaign for The Maze of Games last month seeking $16,000 to fund the project. To date, the project has drawn in over $109,000 in pledges, with an ebook/iDevice edition available to $20 donors and a hardcover edition available for $50. As an added perk, Selinker has arranged for the Gatekeeper to lock a series of famous puzzle designers in cages until they agree to contribute a Victorian-era puzzle to the Conundrucopia, a bonus set of puzzles in The Maze of Games. At set Kickstarter milestones, the puzzle designers are set free from their cages and put to work. The list of confirmed puzzlers is an impressive one that reflects the variety of puzzles contained outside the Conundrucopia. Innovators in the space including ambigram pioneer Scott Kim, 74-time Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings, Perplex City puzzle designer Eric Harshbarger, Puzzazz founder Roy Leban, and Duck Konundrum inventor Dan Katz have all spent their time locked up by the Gatekeeper, with more to follow.
As previously reported on ARGNet, Wired magazine and Lone Shark Games have created a special “Underworld Exposed” issue to delight and confound puzzle-solvers and would-be thieves eager to join the nefarious Ring of Dishonor, a special place for the craftiest of puzzlers. Frustrated by the secret ciphers hidden in the magazine, available both in print and on the iPad, I cornered master puzzle-maker and president of Lone Shark Games, Mike Selinker.
Let’s see if he’ll crack under the interrogation lamp:
In this month’s Wired, Lone Shark Games is presenting a unique challenge to puzzlers, techies, and . . . thugs? Promising “A Guided Tour of the Dark Side,” this special “Underworld Exposed” issue includes fascinating articles about real-world crime and other things hidden from plain sight. Along these lines, the magazine, available both in print and for the iPad, contains secret codes that, when deciphered, will provide an email address. When contacted at a certain time and date, Decode will confer upon you a most dubious honor and a place in the ultra-secret puzzling society, the Ring of Dishonor.
The Ring of Dishonor is a darker, scarier version of Decode’s regularly featured Ring of Honor puzzles. How do you get started on your criminal puzzle-solving career? Check out this trailhead puzzle, involving the now-extinct language used by Chinese women to communicate without being watched. Using this puzzle as a launching pad, nine other secret languages are being revealed in quiz form at Decode to supplement the print magazine (iPad readers have all the secret languages available already). Somehow, through the magazine, these secret languages will bring enthusiastic seekers “behind the door,” so to speak, if they’ve got the puzzle-solving chops to figure it all out.
On Monday night, Lone Shark Games, Evan Ratliff, and Repo Men runner Usman Akeju joined the ARGNetcast to talk about their cross-country hunt for four runners carrying artiforgs from the Union. Yesterday, Repo Men hunter Geneva Conventional caught both Usman Akeju and Ciji Thorton at Seabrook Roller Skating Rink in Lanham, Maryland. Prior to his capture, Usman visited his mother’s house, prompting Lone Shark Games President Mike Selinker to quip, “It proves what I’ve been saying for years: Nothing good can come from bringing a girl over to your mom’s house.”
MovieViral’s most recent RepoCast features an interview with Geneva Conventional along with Lone Shark Games’ Creative Director Teeuwynn Woodruff and hunters Shinma22, fubarcrew, BiggKat77, semisweetCJ, and eviltikimonkey describing Ciji and Usman’s capture, as well as their efforts to catch the other two runners. Additionally, the Repo Men website has released an official statement announcing the capture, raising a number of questions:
How could two runners be so blind (especially as Thornton had a top-of-the-line Ocurity eye) as to miss someone sneaking up on both of them? Didn’t they have a feeling deep inside (perhaps in Usman’s Nephrolux kidney) that they could both be caught doing one of their individual Groundswell tasks? Will Groundswell loosen its restrictions on the other two runners, Alex Gamble and Will LaFerriere—or will the noose tighten even more?
Ciji Thorton is a 26-year old woman with an artificial eye.
Will LaFerriere is a 27-year old former military man with an artificial heart.
Alex Gamble is a 22-year old female with an artificial liver.
And Usman Akeju is a 27-year old software consultant with an artificial kidney.
For the next month, three simple words can cost these four runners $7,500. Any registered hunter in the country can repossess the runner’s artiforg (artificial organ) by getting within speaking distance of them, uttering a three word phrase, receiving their codeword, collecting their artiforg, and calling their Union rep using the runner’s phone. Promoting the upcoming release of the movie Repo Men, this alternate reality game will test the abilities of Ciji, Will, Alex, and Usman to remain undetected against an onslaught of investigative skills from “bounty hunters” nationwide.
Lone Shark Games, Wired, and Universal have selected four applicants to attempt to disappear for the next month. According to the teaser page for the campaign, the hunt for these four volunteers begins February 25 at the stroke of midnight, Eastern Standard Time (Feb 24 at 9PM, PST).
As Repossession Specialists, hunters will be seeking out the four individuals previously selected, to “retrieve ‘artiforgs’ [Union-branded artificial organs] from the possession of users who are seriously behind on their payments. Successfully retrieving an artiforg results in a $7,500 cash prize. In order to hunt, however, prospective Repossession Specialists need to submit a job application. The site clearly states that “[o]nly registered Repo Men who follow all local and national laws and Union rules are eligible to receive cash for artiforgs.” The teaser page now links directly to Repo Men’s Union Cares website, so it looks like the contest will be at least partially integrated with the ongoing viral campaign. Registration to hunt as a Repossession Specialist hasn’t opened yet, but should become available any day now as the countdown approaches zero.
Clues for the game may come in unexpected places, so players are warned to keep their eyes open. The teaser specifically charges potential hunters to “scan our posters and media for valuable information,” so stay sharp! Maybe that string of numbers under the Repo Men title means something after all…