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MIT student blogger Evan B. '10

What’s This Mystery Hunt Thing? by Evan B. '10

So…there’s this Mystery Hunt thing…you might have heard of it.

It’s awesome. It’s lots of fun. You should do it when you get here. Or keep working on those puzzles that Snively and Brian posted—we still don’t have right answers to those!

Anyway, I’m only posting just now, because I’ve been Operating. Death From Above is a HUGE team (our mailing list tells me that there are 115 people!), and probably 1/4 or 1/3 of those are hunting remotely, instead of from on campus. Smaller teams can coordinate by just yelling across the room. Since we can’t really get away with that, we have an Operator (inspired by the Matrix). It’s the Operator’s job to keep track of who’s working on which puzzle, where they are, how they’re doing, whether they’ve slept, and when they’re hitting their heads against the wall so hard their brains are going to fall out.

In addition, the Operator is responsible for “calling in” answers. When you think you have an answer to a puzzle, you fill out a little form on the official Hunt website, and they call you to check your answer. As the operator, I take other people’s answers and call them in, so I also get to enjoy all of the excitement when we get an answer right (which happens pretty rarely, for the record—we’re averaging less than one an hour).

So I’ve got this awesome little command and control center in the corner of our headquarters. There’s my laptop in the middle, where I watch what answers have been submitted, an extra computer on the left, where I have Skype, AIM, and Jabber open to talk to remoters, and the VOIP phone on the right that we borrowed from IS&T (because cell reception here is practically non-existent).

I realized last year that I’m a lot better at trying to organize people than I am at actually solving puzzles, so I’ve been focusing on doing that. Every day since Friday, I’ve shown up at noon, sat behind the desk for about 14-16 hours (with occasional interruptions to run over to the other rooms), and then gone home and slept for a few hours.

It can be boring, but it gets really exciting every few hours because you’re talking with 5 or 6 remoters, and trying to handle 3 different people who all have answers at the same time, and the phone just starts ringing off the hook, and…it’s just awesome. So much fun.

Anyway, that’s my Mystery Hunt story. Anyway, back to the phones—while I was writing this, we just solved 3 more puzzles! (although we’re still at less than 1 per hour)

12 responses to “What’s This Mystery Hunt Thing?”

  1. Hyun Jin says:

    Could it be? Am I first?

    It’s great to see another side of Mystery Hunt other than those brain boggling puzzles. I’d been wondering how some of the teams operated. (Snively’s photos pretty much tell the story of how big some teams are)

    Anyhow, ‘hectic’ seems to be the defining word for Mystery Hunt

  2. Laura says:

    Let the record show that I functioned as operator for the overnight shift (as in 2 AM- 10 AM, since I am 12 hour sleep-shifted) and I HATED IT.

    Just saying. =)

  3. Evan says:

    Yeah…it’s definitely not for everyone. Sorry to stick you with it, but I was about to fall over and I needed someone to take over. I should be better prepared tonight.

  4. Sondy '07 G says:

    Thank you so much Laura!

  5. Piper says:

    That’s awesome! That actually sounds like something I’d be useful for =P

  6. Taylor says:

    Where did the name Death From Above come from?

  7. Evan says:

    We believe it’s a Grateful Dead reference, but nobody in my area of the room knows for sure.

  8. Sondy '07 G says:

    I’m pretty sure it’s from John Perry Barlow, who’ll you hear lots about from Hal Abelson if you take 6.805.

  9. E. Rosser says:

    Wow, you all take self-mascohism to the next level–remotely or otherwise…
    I want to do the Mystery Hunt! Such pain, yet such joy… And such is MIT.

  10. ana says:

    Congratulations to the Evil Midnight Bombers What Bomb at Midnight, who found the coin on the fourth floor of building 24 at 8:26pm Sunday night.

  11. Hawkins says:

    I think I’d make a better operator as well. lol! I’ve been glancing at puzzles all weekend (I was remoting on Smallish Momenta) and I never made any progress. =—–

  12. Reg says:

    I would love to be an operator, it sounds really fun in a weird sort of way XD