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.
While Kickstarter campaigns are often centered around using the campaign as a preorder process, Selinker is using the campaign as an excuse to seed puzzles everywhere and anywhere he can. As he explained to the StoryForward podcast, “when I started out, I said I’m going to design an ARG masquerading as a Kickstarter campaign…but there is going to be a book at the end.” Fulfilling on that promise, Selinker scattered a series of puzzles into the various sections of the Kickstarter page itself. Additional puzzles are scattered throughout his interviews on Wired.com, Reddit, StoryForward, and Kickstarter Update posts. Weekly puzzle challenges have asked contributors to respond to creative prompts like rewriting the infamous -GRY riddle.
Over the years, Mike Selinker has worked on quite a few projects that transformed puzzling into performance art. In addition to working on traditional alternate reality games like Citizens of Virtue, Selinker set online audiences on a nationwide manhunt (twice), invented “juzzling” for the cross-country w00tstock festival, hidden a secret message in the spines of WIRED Magazine, and even installed larger-than-life crossword puzzles in a chain of bagel cafés. Therefore, it’s reasonable to suspect that The Maze of Games and the rest of its Kickstarter campaign will be a spectacle to behold.
Be sure to check out The Maze of Games Kickstarter campaign before time runs out on March 14th. To my knowledge, this article does not contain any puzzles or clues associated with the campaign…but with Mike Selinker, you can never be too careful.