Sunday, January 14, 2007

Perplex City: the new obsession

Perplex City Free Virtual Puzzle Cards
Perplex City is a game, based out of England, that has been gaining popularity for the last couple of years. It is an "alternate reality game", meaning it can take many different forms (websites, emails, live events, text messages, and even skywriting). The basic story is that there is a place on some other planet called Perplex City where the citizens highly value games and puzzles; their most important artifact, the Receda Cube, has been stolen and brought to Earth where it is now hidden. In trying to search for it, the people of Perplex City have established this game to engage the people of Earth in the hunt. There is apparently a real-life reward of $200,000 for anyone who finds the actual cube. The game does a good job of blurring real-life and its own environment.

The only part of the game I have really played so far are the puzzle cards (which, I think, is the main part). The company (Mind Candy) has released a set of 256 cards, each of which has some sort of puzzle on it. The cards range in difficulty from trivial to nearly impossible (one unsolved one asks you to prove the Riemann Hypothesis), with a huge variety of types of puzzles (math, logic, word, visual, trivia, etc.) On one I had to play a game of minesweeper and another I had to cut out and fit together as a puzzle. These cards are highly addictive, and I'm not quite sure why. As you solve them, you can enter the answers on their website; if you are right, you earn points and move up the leaderboard. They also say that there are little clues burried in the different cards (some of which are done in heat-sensitive or invisible ink), that taken together can help find the cube. Plus, the backs of the cards form a map of Perplex City. Most math teachers like a good puzzle - go ahead and click, you won't be disappointed (except for the fact that you can no longer do anything else in your free time!).

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