As a game designer, I make the games that I would like to play, and am then unable to play them because I know where the lions and lockets are hidden.
This week I got a really unusual opportunity to play my own game. We have been running Raiders of the Lost Archive for nine months in London. We’ve had 1000 players come through and seek the lost treasure. Recently, Fire Hazard Australia began to build their own version of the Raiders game, and our visit to Adelaide coincided with one of the first of the new Raiders games at the State Library of Australia.
I should point out now that I had not looked at any of the clues in advance. I had visited the State Library once, two years before, heavily jetlagged to the point where I had the sensation that the portraits were looking at me disapprovingly.
The moment we arrived, we were greeted by Professor Coffinberry, one of our most loved characters. The Professor is an enthusiastic leader of the Wingback Society, who loves brandy almost as much as her fellow explorers and has a keen eye for the mysterious, the arcane, and a comfy chair by the fire. In Adelaide, the Professor has been reinvented, overwhelmed with joy at our arrival, he was sporting a fancy waistcoat and a keen excitement for the adventure ahead.
We were joined by a large group, some of whom had attempted Fire Hazard Australia missions before. We took up our map and tried to familiarise ourselves with the layout of the library. It was fascinating to realise how difficult it is to get to grips with a new space. Having spent the better part of a month wandering the halls of the Victoria and Albert museum before our game began, I’d forgotten how alien a museum layout can be if you’ve never visited before.
The Professor set us our mission and launched us off. We immediately stalked away in the wrong direction, and took precious moments to right ourselves.
The clues ranged from the relaxed to the fiendish, with plenty of exclamations of “it’s right there, by your knee!” and “That’s the wrong way up!” We noticed a team of players carefully counting steps across the floor at one point...and later found out why. I met a skeleton, Gwyn cracked codes. Finally, with two minutes left on the clock, we decided to try to get to one last clue...and missed the floor completely, heading up into the attic of the building, and coming back down, only to miss the answer by a few seconds. One of the most important parts of any scavenger hunt; know which floor you are on.
Ultimately, we won the game, but the clues were challenging, and we were neck and neck with Team Madam Butterfly throughout the game, making for an exciting, pacey ninety minutes.
Coffinberry and Rackharrow were waiting to greet us on our return, and thanks to the combined efforts of the group, the lost treasure was located. We were gifted with some ancient gold coins, which were much appreciated. Although the game is played at walking speed, after ninety minutes of fast thinking with the minutes ticking away, we were in need of the sugar.