DASH 5 Coming to London and Puzzle Localization

The DA in DASH is about to get a lot more D!  London will be the first* non-USA city ever to host a DASH, very exciting!  Very international!  I’ll be interested to hear more about how this develops and whether or not they’ll still try to run it at the same time as the US cities.  (I think that would put the ending around 11pm or midnight?)

This brings up something I’ve been thinking about for a while — puzzle localization.  I’m guessing too much won’t need to be done to adapt DASH for players in England (though America-centric puzzles like this year’s Golden Gate Bridge might be avoided), but it might be a lot of extra work to get any non-English-speaking cities involved.  Every DASH puzzle this year had a heavy language comportment, and many made wordplay their focus.  It might be possible to extract the core concepts of some of these puzzles and redesign them into different languages, but it would certainly be a lot of work!

Are there any types of puzzles that are language-neutral and don’t need any localization (besides maybe basic instructions)?  My first guess is the math puzzle, my least favorite.  Music is supposed to be the “universal language,” so maybe a music-based puzzle would work nicely regardless of the solver’s native language?  Or visual and physical puzzles that don’t use words at all!

I’d love to travel back to Japan sometime in the next couple of years, and sometimes I think about how awesome it would be to either run a puzzle hunt there or play one.  Real Escape Game is based in Tokyo, and I’d love to check out some of their newer projects there.  But would I even be able to tell what was going on?  (My Japanese isn’t that good, especially reading!)  And as a designer, I don’t even know how I’d begin to write puzzles for a Japanese-speaking audience.

It might be an interesting challenge to try and make a sort of “universal” puzzle hunt that doesn’t rely on language and could theoretically be played by anyone.

*If you want to help host DASH in your city, email gcs@playdash.org!



3 comments on DASH 5 Coming to London and Puzzle Localization

  • Dan

    Speaking of Japan, Nikoli puzzles (sudoku, slitherlink, nonagram, etc) are quite language agnostic, which is why the Sudoku craze could spread, and why the World Puzzle Championship is pretty much all logic constraint puzzles of that sort.

    (Now I’m wondering what Dr. When would be like translated into, say, Swedish. The high school scenes would need updating.)

    A friend played a room escape game in China — apparently it’s becoming a thing there — and he remarked that he would like to rerun it here, but some puzzles based on Chinese wordplay or cultural references would need adaptation or replacement.

    And speaking of Sweden, they have a “rebusrally” thing that sounds a lot like a puzzle hunt, but none of us know much about it.

  • tabstop

    Right, obligatory links: The official site of this year’s World Sudoku and World Puzzle Championships (from now on, they’re going to be held at the same time, so that Thomas Snyder doesn’t have to travel so much)

    You too can try out to be on the American team, although since Palmer, Thomas, and Wei-Hwa finished 1, 3, 4 last year they get to keep their spots anyway so there’s only one spot to play for. If you want to practice on last year’s test, you can (all these puzzles are also supposed to be language-neutral, although the instructions are given in English. I believe that at the actual main event, the instructions are given in each of the official languages (5 maybe?)). Maybe this year will be the year that Dan Katz doesn’t finish one spot out of qualifying.

  • tabstop

    To actually make the point, the London site will certainly lose the “cryptic crossword clues = instant 4x difficulty multiplier” that we have over here. (Not sure whether previous DASH ever used cryptic-style clues.)

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