Let’s talk about mazes! Josh linked me to this article the other day about a man who is trying to create the first Guinness World Record for longest hand-drawn maze. The hook of the article is that, since the maze is so long and arduous, the creator is having trouble finding people who want to bother to sit down and solve it. I can relate (to those wary solvers).
Pencil-and-paper mazes baffle me. How do you even make them? Are there some patterns and tricks that you learn? Does your mind become good at keeping track of the path and whether or not you’ve closed it off? (I would totally fail the Architect tryouts scene in Inception.) The other thing about pencil-and-paper mazes is that I don’t particularly care for them. The seem a little overwhelming and without much payoff when you solve. Though I suppose I haven’t really done one since I was a kid, and I certainly haven’t tried one from a puzzler’s perspective. Does anyone have a great maze they recommend?
The mazes that really do interest me are physical 3D mazes that you actually get to traverse. Can you guess why? Ding ding ding! It’s the experience! The immersion! The novelty! The mystery! Sometimes I think about designing my ideal maze, and the elements I usually find myself focusing on are things like music, lighting, and special effects. That being said, the puzzle elements can still play a big part in building the atmosphere of a physical maze. The act of a door closing and locking behind you, as it would in a loops and traps maze, produces a set of very specific reactions and feelings, almost inherently.
I desperately want to go to more mazes. I can count the number of mazes I’ve been to on one hand: The DeSoto’s Lost Trail Maze at DeSoto Caverns Park in 3rd grade, a temporary exhibit maze at the St. Louis Science Center in 4th grade (where I cheated through it with a friend by ducking under the panels), the Kaeser Memorial Maze at Missouri Botanical Garden in 6th grade, The Ultimate Mirror Maze Challenge in San Antonio in 2009 (wins the Most Hyperbolic Name award), and the Liberty Mills Corn Maze in Somerset, VA last year. That’s it! But just thinking about mazes gets me so excited.
Halloween has a lot of maze potential, so I am on the lookout. (Remember how disappointed I was when the 13 haunted house at Busch Gardens turned out not to be a maze?) Blood Lake is probably going to be the haunt closest to where I live, and it also happens to have a maze this year (called “Slaughterpen 13,” ack), so I’m definitely going to check that out. If you hear about any haunted mazes anywhere near Virginia or D.C., please let me know!
And of course, I can’t write a post about mazes without mentioning The Mole. The hedge maze game was probably the single most frustrating thing to watch on the entire show. The players were paired up, with one player going through the maze in darkness and the other acting as navigator over a headset. The navigator could see an aerial view of the maze on a monitor and had to guide the player around, kind of Pac-Man-style. The maze would have a couple of runners trying to catch the players, and the goal was usually to reach a certain amount of time spent in the maze before being caught (combined total of all the pairs), sometimes with a cash bonus or exemption incentive for actually escaping the maze. The two problems almost every team encountered: 1) Everybody, inexplicably, RAN through the maze. This sent them toward their captors more quickly, made noise that alerted the captors, and usually meant the player would miss a handful of instructions from the navigator, blowing right by turns and openings. 2) The navigators were always terrible at keeping the orientation of the player in mind, often telling them to go “my” left (from the aerial camera view) instead of “their” right (from the player’s perspective moving south in the maze). The show would always try to play this up as “Was it sabotage???” but you always knew it was just people getting caught up and mixed up.
Do you guys like mazes? Even the pencil-and-paper ones? Have any good maze stories?