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Okay, so there is this ARG (Alternate Reality Game–a story told through interactive and nonlinear means like web sites, voice mail, email, and puzzles to solve.) Like many of these kinds of things, it is a mystery–the mechanics of storytelling lend really well to mysteries. Solve where “The Cube” is, probably solving who took it and why as a side effect. This one is a little unusual in that most of them to this date have been driven by marketing (for instance, leading up to the A.I. movie or more recently Halo 2.) A few have been run by smaller, grass-roots teams on shoestring budgets. This one is offering $200K for the person who finds the cube.

At any rate, in a sort of blurring of genres, this particular story is borrowing a page from the collectible card game genre (see: Magic, Pokemon, et. al.) The cards have little puzzles and brain teasers, increasing in difficulty. Many of the more common cards have puzzles that are laughably simple, others take a lot of pondering or complex math. Someone got one the other day:

It effectively says: “There’s a mathematician that came up with an equation in 1850 that just sort of works, but nobody can prove why. Many of the best and brightest minds have tried. Important things like eCommerce, secure web pages, and digital signatures rely on this. It ranks right up there in unsolvability with P vs NP. In fact, a foundation is offering $1,000,000 to anyone who can prove it. So, prove this equation and win 80 (or whatever) points.” Wha? And actually, when you go back and re-read the text on the card, it never really poses a question or issues a command–it consists entirely of statements. Weird. Solve world hunger and you get $1,000, which you can trade for what’s behind door #2!

Best. Soap. Ever.

Time to go outside and get my geek on. Hey, wait — isn’t that an oxymoron?

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