Mind Candy, in conjunction with the Perplex City Academy, ran their first Games in London on Saturday. The widely anticipated urban scavenger hunt unleashed impromptu choirs and conga lines across the capital, earning a wave of acclaim from over 200 participants.
The games – within the ‘reality’ of Perplex City, but unrelated to the mystery of the missing cube – were first announced in early January, and the Mind Candy team were deluged with applications from over eight hundred would-be players. The numbers were eventually whittled down, and 40 lucky six-member teams finally converged upon City Temple from as far afield as Barcelona, Texas and Hong Kong – some sporting uniforms, others neatly equipped with Rollerblades, and all buzzing with nervy excitement. Also in attendance were a gaggle of reporters and a volunteer crew of Game Rangers, who patrolled the streets and ran events throughout the day.
The Perplex City ARG is branching out again – this time, the Academy of the puzzle-obsessed city is bringing its famous Games to both sides of the Atlantic.
On February the 15th, New York will be playing host to the first PCAG contest, where players will be locking horns in deadly puzzle combat… all in the convivial surroundings of a central Manhattan bar.
The London ‘freestyle Academy event,’ however, is significantly more ambitious. Billed as “the largest, smartest and most sophisticated live action urban game” and due to take place in late February/early March, teams of players will be roaming Central London in a bid to complete a series of challenges and seize victory.
Both events are open to everybody (no specialist Perplex City knowledge required), but you need to pre-register on the website, which also has more details on these exciting events.
Mind Candy, the team behind ever-popular ARG Perplex City, has just received a $3m investment from Index Ventures, a VC firm that invests in web companies such as Skype and Ofoto. It’s the first instance of an ARG-centered company receiving such a large investment – while several firms receive commissions from companies to create ARG-style games for marketing or training purposes, Perplex City operates through its own standalone revenue stream generated from sales of its signature puzzle cards.
“We were immensely impressed by both the creativity of the Mind Candy team and the enthusiasm of the players, who are in turn creating a global gaming phenomenon,” explained Danny Rimer, a partner at Index.
Meanwhile the Managing Director of Mind Candy, Michael Smith, gave credit to the broad, mass-market appeal of the game. “We cater to both the casual player, who wants to solve a few puzzles with friends, and the avid fan who is absorbed with the wider Perplex City mystery. We are extremely excited about this partnership and see enormous potential to build a global brand around puzzles and puzzle-solving.”
Another waypoint on Alternate Reality Gaming’s march to the mainstream, perhaps, but for now expect even bigger things from the Puppetmaster team – those who’ve witnessed them give presentations on the matter might have an inkling of their ambitious plans for the future.
Perplex City has released a second wave of 66 puzzle cards this week, doubling the number of available cards to 132. Contrary to earlier reports, the new cards will be mixed in with the existing ones, rather than packaged separately, but we’re told the new cards will be more plentiful. The original online retailer of the cards, Firebox, is celebrating by offering five packs for the price of four… but you’d better hurry, as the deal closes at midnight GMT (6PM CST) tomorrow tonight! (Sunday 27th November, that is.)
The collectible cards each feature a puzzle that can be tackled independently, and players can enter their solution on the Perplex City website, earning Perplex Points for a place on the leader board. Some cards have also been found to contain messages hidden using special inks – only time and sharp observation will reveal if the new batch of cards contain similarly obscured clues.
It has also been confirmed that there will be two further waves of cards, each comprising 62 cards, due for release in 2006. Snappy!
The much-anticipated alternate reality game Perplex City came a little closer to full launch yesterday, with the first packs of puzzle cards going on sale at Playlounge in London.
The news reached players through an unexpected tip-off from wannabe-journalist
Scarlett Kiteway, just two hours before the cards were to be made available. Two players in the area were able to make their way to the store, where the puppetmasters were waiting excitedly to greet their first ever customers and take a few celebratory photographs. It was reported that the cards had only arrived from the printers that day, and the Mind Candy team had made a last minute decision to dash the first packs over to Playlounge and into the eager hands of its players.
Sable & Shuck, the promotional
alternate reality game crafted by Draft
London for Stella Artois,
has finally come to its conclusion – not with a bang, not even with a
whimper, but with a wall of silence punctuated only by anguished complaints
from its players. Despite offering a £10,946 ($19,225) cash prize
to the player who cracked the final puzzle, the solve eluded the community
and the closing date passed without comment from behind the curtain.
A newcomer reading the post-game thoughts from the players might imagine
that S&S was an unmitigated disaster. On the contrary, the game showed
many a flash of brilliance during its rocky eight month run. Unfortunately,
however, the exceptional design and colourful premise failed to compensate
for the chronic gameplay flaws that ultimately rendered the game a much-maligned
alternate reality car crash. By squandering such high quality material
and even inspiring some players to disown the brand itself, it will live
on as a warning to would-be corporate PM’s in how seriously ‘ARGvertising’
So where did it all go wrong?