Monday, June 05, 2006

Palms Down

Rant of the day: In the context of The Game, PDAs are nothing but trouble.

I have never played a Game which used PDAs in which there wasn't some sort of technical failure which required Game Control to reset, reboot, or re-install software on the device. In addition to being a roadblock, this also takes us out of the game world-- breaking the fourth wall, if you will-- and reduces our confidence in the omnipotence of GC.

A secondary effect is that it's easier to "back-solve" clues (i.e., reverse engineer the solution message) if you can just keep entering random guesses into the PDA. Team Snout played Paparazzi over the weekend, and on several occasions we were able to guess the solution to a clue after having decoded less than half of the actual message data. But in the grand scheme of things, this isn't a huge issue-- if you've figured out the solving method and started decoding the final message, shaving a few seconds by guessing isn't going to make a huge difference to anyone.

On the bright side, the Paparazzi Game was very well put together overall; especially impressive, given that this was a first-time GC. They didn't attempt a story, but all the clues and most locations were well tied to the theme. Highlights in the latter category included a limo ride to Ruby Skye, dinner at a very familiar Chevys, and a beautiful sunset seen from Treasure Island.

Some of my favorite clues solved to longer, riddle-type messages, for which the answer word or phrase served as input to the PDA. I guess I respected the fact that it was harder to guess the solution if you didn't have the complete question as a prompt-- kind of like a game show contestant buzzing in before the host has finished reading the trivia question, and missing an important detail. ("Who is the President of the United States... married to?")

And here's their grand-finale video clue:



It's funny. I'm not really competitive as a Game player-- I'm in it to have fun. But as GC, I feel much more of a drive to compare favorably with other event-runners. Maybe it's because we have an audience; maybe it's because I have more of an affinity for creation than recreation; maybe I feel it's a better measure of my abilities. Failing to excel during a single weekend can be attributed to any number of incidental factors. Failing to produce a good outcome after six to nine months of planning is, to me, much worse.

Anyone can be a hero in the middle of a disaster. It takes a different set of skills and expertise to build something that will resist catastrophe in the first place.
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