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Events in puzzle hunts are scheduled opportunities for teams to take part in large-scale puzzles or puzzle-adjacent activities. Events usually tie into the overall theme of a hunt, but don't usually affect the plot directly, nor do they have to. A common appearance at the MIT Mystery Hunt in particular, events are best used during live, multi-day hunts to maximize the amount of live participation, as well as to best act as a break from regular puzzle-solving.
Background[edit | edit source]
At the MIT Mystery Hunt[edit | edit source]
Gathering Mystery Hunt teams outside of the start and end of the hunt is usually recommended against, due to the stakes of the hunt and the risk of sharing information. However, that hasn't stopped hunt organizers from dedicating time and space to such a thing since 1997.
Once the hunt became regularly themed, puzzle names and unique puzzle gimmicks became commonplace. In 1997, the first recorded event occurred, requiring teams to gather in a particular location (Lobby 7) in at a specific time (7PM on Friday). Notably, this instruction was the entirety of one of the puzzles in the PDF that contained the entire hunt, and the majority of the 'event' was teams being handed out the actual puzzle. The rest of the event had teams choosing to 'Cooperate' or 'Defect', resulting in variation in the number of clues given out. The event also didn't specify a number of team members to attend, likely implying that the entire team was either welcome or expected to show up (something that stopped being as common past 2005, coinciding with a general uptick in team count and team sizes).
A couple years later, in 1999, a more involved type of event was implemented, which would continue until around 2008: the potluck. Potluck events would require teams to bring a food or drink to a party, where a puzzle would be presented in some fashion (sometimes by the decorations and music, sometimes by attendees planted by the writing team).
The first time that events were not a dedicated puzzle presented as part of a round was 2007, where seven events were scheduled and announced at the beginning of the hunt. These events were (in theory) mandatory for those wishing to finish the hunt, as they allowed teams to have certain puzzles contribute towards unlocking specific puzzles based on the sins the events represented. This type of pre-announced event was skipped in 2008, but has been part of every hunt since 2009.
In 2021, when the Mystery Hunt began being run entirely remotely in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, events still occurred. Instead of physically gathering teams, the events made do with gathering members within that year's projection device (an MMO-like system for simulating presence on-campus), or by using outside hosting services like Discord, Zoom, or certain online games. The 2022 MIT Mystery Hunt was similarly affected, but did not have the benefit of a simulated physical environment, so worked entirely through discord servers.
At other puzzle hunts[edit | edit source]
Puzzle Application[edit | edit source]
Purpose[edit | edit source]
Puzzle hunt events have two primary purposes: to provide a distraction from the rest of the hunt, and to allow teams to interact with one another in one of the only hunt-sanctioned ways. Because of this, events tend to be fun, social occasions. While many events contain puzzles to solve, some will avoid them in favor of straight-up trivia, creative tasks, or party games (usually with a twist). Those that do avoid puzzles for the duration of the event will sometimes make up for this fact by sending people back to their teams with a puzzle to solve, thematic to the event they took part in, or simply a memento of their time with an answer written on it. Ultimately, the focus of puzzle hunt events should be on the participants having a fun time, rather than being challenged with further puzzles. Sacrificing the former for the latter goes against the first purpose of having events: taking a break from the constant stream of puzzles to solve.
Placement[edit | edit source]
The end result of a hunt's events can vary depending on the role the event plays in the hunt's overall structure.
Events can be individual puzzles, lurking within rounds for teams to find them and be notified of an upcoming event that they need to go to (or make up for missing in some form) in order to get their answer. This type of event is less common in modern hunts, due to the high risk of teams missing the events if they're not far enough along in the hunt. This was usually solved by either including time unlocks up to those points prior to the events occurring, and/or releasing answers to those event puzzles some time after they occurred.
Events can be optional activities, provided as a way for teams who attend to gain a little bit of help in the form of hints or extra unlocks, but not blocking those who don't attend from proceeding in the hunt as normal. These were quite common at the height of internet-assisted hunts, and were usually announced at the beginning of the hunt to allow for teams to organize themselves and figure out who would be attending. The result of these events would usually be an amount of that hunt's 'currency' that could be spent on hints or unlocks, or a boost to whatever metric determined when unlocks occurred.
Events can also be a kind of mix of these two categories, being pre-announced activities, but still resulting in answers and belonging to their own, self-contained round. These types of events are just as common as non-essential, pre-announced events in modern puzzle hunts. The benefit of these events is that they provide the high participation reward that the early feeder-puzzle events gave and give teams enough time to sufficiently prepare.
Notable Examples[edit | edit source]
- I'm Wet! I'm Hysterical and I'm Wet! (MITMH 2012) - Physical tasks are relatively uncommon, but still show up sometimes in hunts. This was one such task, as it involved attendees jumping into a pool and searching through 84 rubber ducks for one of 24 sets of 3 with the same symbol on them.
- Charles River (MITMH 2021) - A case of events making up an entire solvable round of the hunt. In this case, it even included a metapuzzle that used the events' answers, and a follow-up interactive puzzle within the projection device.