The only thing cooler than a helicopter is two helicopters: Perplex City in San Francisco

August 14th, 2006: admin says...
The only thing cooler than a helicopter is two helicopters: Perplex City in San Francisco

Information concerning the big Perplex City live event in San Francisco this past Saturday is frustratingly scarce on our friend the internet. The perplexcity tag on Flickr has a paltry few photos so far, and even the normally hopping Unfiction forums just have a few dribs and drabs. It looks like it really was a mistake on Mind Candy‘s part to schedule this event concurrent with Gen Con… or at least to promote it the way they did. But here’s what I’ve gathered so far.

A few days before the event, the existing link between Earth and Perplex City was severed – we got email to that effect – and the celebration of a new connection was redubbed an emergency rescue mission. Once the event was on, a new website appeared with two progress bars: one for onsite progress towards reestablishing the link, and one for online progress. Online players could help nudge progress forward by answering questions about PXC trivia and other puzzles, as well as simply hitting certain pages a lot. Players on the ground in SF… well, it isn’t clear, but we know they were advised to have transportation ready, so maybe their challenges involved info gathering throughout the city. In the end, the link was established with minutes to spare, and players were rewarded with a video message of congratulations from the cube hunt’s head honcho (obviously posted to Google by someone who can’t spell under pressure). However, players watching the video in SF were interrupted by a phone call from baddies The Third Power (here’s another variation that some got) just before they got buzzed by not one (as in a previous event in London), but two (oooohhhh) black helicopters.

So there’s a lot missing here. I had a couple of friends present but they haven’t reported in yet. Mind Candy might be thinking that documenting their live events incompletely or slowly incentivizes people to show up and participate, but I think the history (short as it is) of ARGs so far shows that not to be the case. You need to make room for a passive audience, especially when your sense of urgency is already a little bit lacking. They will probably get some nice details up on the official site eventually; we’ll let you know when.

(Incidentally, some of the most interesting talks I had at Gen Con concerned the ways in which RPGs and story games could benefit by making more explicit room for a “home audience” that doesn’t participate directly. More on that soon, maybe.)


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