Mystery Hunt makes me happy!

The past two years I have been crushing a bit on MIT due to stories of hacks, climbing around buildings and general awesomeness. My visit last weekend did not disappoint. I had the opportunity to participate in MIT Mystery Hunt with my favorite MIT alum, a few other friends and many many strangers – our team was huge.

The MIT Mystery Hunt is an annual puzzlehunt competition that started in 1980 and at the time only consisted of 12 clues including a Vigenere cipher, a short runaround, and an integral. The answers detailed the location of a coin hidden on campus. Over the years, the hunt has become far more involved and complex. For example, I read that in 2005 there were 114 puzzles, 12 metapuzzles and a 6-puzzle final runaround. This year – wow – there was a  lot of stuff going on!

The hunt began at noon on Friday in the lobby of Building 7 where we gathered to watch the hunt introduction. Each year the puzzlehunt is created by the winning team from the previous year and is based on a theme. We watched as the team introduced the 2012 hunt: The Producers. We were soon off to our rooms where I had absolutely no idea what to expect – I was not fully briefed beforehand – just…”Come to Mystery Hunt! It’s fun! It’s solving puzzles!” I did not need much coaxing and said “Hell ya!” We entered a room with a big sign reading “Shut the fucking door” filled with tables of people on laptops. Given the below freezing temperatures in Cambridge, I was damn happy that most of the hunt was inside. My first puzzlehunt was last May- outside in NYC, DASH, and was far less complicated. Mystery Hunt is not only one of the oldest puzzlehunts, it is one of the most complex. Team members were actually writing code to solve puzzles – yeah – I just watched that part as they made it look far too easy. The sections of the puzzles that I worked on were the non-code-needing sections. There were even some hands on puzzles (an orange one!!!) and requirements to create mini Broadway shows that we performed.

I was joined by three of my DASH team members, but I also had the opportunity to meet some new lovely and interesting people–one of which has orange hair and rented a zipcar to bring me to a cupcake shop – how fantastic is she! After sitting from 7 am until 6 pm puzzling on only a few hours of sleep, I was super excited to escape to the outside to Sweet Cupcakes! I suggest their Blueberry Pancake, Hot Chocolate, Boston Cream and Key Lime cupcakes!! I would skip the Macaroon and Half-Baked Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough cupcakes. Another happy note is that they have Pupcakes – which always make Snoodle smile!

It was a great weekend. Hanging out with people with highly honed technical skills, I learned that the fact that I place a sticker over my webcam is a good idea and that I am not crazy. I also learned  a few new things that will help make me more paranoid than I already am! 🙂

I am looking forward to my next puzzlehunt!

A talk given by one of my team members at DEF CON that makes me laugh laugh laugh!! View here.

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