Perplex City

I casually keep an eye out for puzzle memorabilia, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to scoop up a trove of Perplex City content when I found it for the right price. The treasure hunt has been done for fifteen years, but the content is still interesting to look at in its own right, and I’m happy to have it.

Perplex City, as a treasure hunt and augmented reality game, ran from roughly 2005 to 2007. The event was produced by a company called Mind Candy which offered a remarkable amount of content en route to the $200,000 prize. From what I can gather, the puzzle cards I’ve picked up here were actually quite a small part of the overall augmented reality game. The overall ARG was filled with music and events, and though I can find scant details about the specifics, I occasionally run across tantalizing details like the below from Wikipedia:

Sixty players attended an in-game event in search of clues on Clapham Common, only for one of their own to be revealed as a mole and escape in a black helicopter.

ARG-aside, the puzzle cards are a lovely concept. 256 different cards, ranging from common and easy to rare and absurdly difficult. One of the cards remains unsolved – proving the Riemann Hypothesis, an unsolved mathematical dilemma for which a solution also brings a $1 million reward from the Clay Mathematicians Institute of Cambridge. Another card remained unsolved until only recently- a picture of a Japanese man with only the instruction “Find me.” Perplex City enthusiasts found the man in 2020- still playing along with the hunt long after the game ended.

I haven’t done a full inventory yet, but it looks like I have roughly 200 of the 256 cards from the game. I’m looking forward to going through them one by one. I also plan to start a weekly photo series soon, and I will mix some of the Perplex City cards in with my weekly photo updates. Unfortunately, the site is no longer available to validate answers, but there’s enough archived content from Perplex City online to help with that.

It’ll be interesting to see if we ever get another game like Perplex City. Part of me is surprised we even got one. We have plenty of treasure hunts now, but it’s cool to see this historical example of a treasure hunt that was also a multimedia blitz.

1 Comment

  1. I wish someone would publish the answers to the puzzles, as I’m still interested in this game, kept all my cards from Seasons 1 & 2 of PXC, and hope that a game like this happens my way again!

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