So the other night I played in this year’s Midnight Madness (mentioned in this New Yorker Article, Feb. 2002). This was my second year.
Essentially, its a puzzle-solving game played in teams which has Manhattan as the playfield. Clues take the form of cryptic puzzles, which when solved will hint to a new location somewhere in the city where the next clue can–hopefully–be found. The puzzles range from simple (a crossword puzzle where the intersections yield an address) to the bizarre (an hand-crafted electronic device which when given the proper code began spewing out code-words on a 4” LCD screen). Some of the contestants are frighteningly brilliant.
Unfortunately, this year the game organizers had a mean streak. Here’s a quote from a day-before email from “Game Control”:
Be forewarned: Midnight Madness V promises to be challenging and lengthy – the V, after all, is for Vendetta, not “vacation.”
They weren’t kidding. While last year I was pleased that my team was able to finish by around 2:00a (at what point I was entirely exhausted and immediately went to bed, forsaking the after-party). This year, when at 3:30a we realized we were not even halfway complete, myself and the majority of my team wimped out. Sleep is more valuable. The next day I got an email from the team members who stuck it out to the end. They didn’t finish until 7:30a. Ouch.
Hopefully next year the game length will be a little more reasonable, or at least the competition will get an earlier start.