When Tory asked me to help out creating a “stack” (themed puzzle day) for Todd, I was happy to help.  It ended up taking a loooot of time, but was obviously enjoyed by everyone… because who doesn’t love spending the day hanging out with people doing the fun kind of problem-solving and role-playing?  Is there a market for the creation of puzzle-day type experiences?  By market, I mean like, actually starting a business dedicated to providing such experiences to paying customers on behalf of nonpaying groups.

Tim, Molly and I have talked a little about this, and I’ve had on-and-off discussions before with Nate and Todd about it.  The general idea behind such a business would be to find venues where people would enjoy this sort of thing (off the top of my head, I think conventions, multi-day conferences, team-building type retreats and BIG parties would be interested) and then appropriately define a cost-to-complexity ratio for the kinds of puzzles we would do.

I think the process for a single customer would be:

  • Customer comes to us, interested in an experience for the customer’s group.
  • We nail down an appropriate theme (maybe themeless) with them.
  • We make sure there’s enough time scheduled to develop all the pieces and do setup on location, and then spend a week or two (or longer) generating the pieces of the puzzles and all the auxiliary, important “immersion” stuff: props, costumes, actors, etc.
  • Do the work – this is the fun part!
  • Drive a mobile puzzle setup vehicle to the site, and do setup in time for the activities to start.

At Caltech, stacks were generally teams of no more than 8, organized by 1-3 people in their spare time over months.  I imagine the logistics are crazy difficult but solvable for something like 10 teams of 8 (a huge retreat or open-attendence convention stack), organized by 3-5 people working full-time for weeks.