My First MIT Mystery Hunt – Wrap-up

Want to catch up?

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Now that my re-cap is done, how about a quick look at the things I liked, didn’t like, etc. about the Hunt?

Things I particularly liked:

  • The theme of the Hunt: COINHEIST.  It seemed like the perfect theme for a Hunt!  The pop culture icons were fun, and the different security systems were really creative.  I also liked that the theme wasn’t really clear until the presentation after the kick-off.  That added an extra layer of mystery.
  • My team!  I really couldn’t have asked to join a better group of people with a better team atmosphere.  I can’t imagine how lost I would have felt on one of the huge teams.  Left Out made me feel welcome from the very start, and I couldn’t believe I was getting to hang out and work together with such cool, smart, talented people.
  • The wide variety of puzzle types.  There was really a little bit of everything, and I feel like my eyes were opened to a whole new world of puzzles.
  • The events.  Even though the puzzle ones were kind of tricky, I loved dressing up and going somewhere and being around other people dressed up in a place that had been decorated.  I had a lot of fun at the events!


Things I particularly didn’t like:

  • Honestly, there wasn’t much!  I could say the difficulty of the puzzles, but I went in to the experience totally expecting to be way out of my league.  I didn’t expect everyone else to feel so overwhelmed too, but I can’t really say that I particularly disliked anything about the whole weekend.


Things I wasn’t expecting / Things that surprised me:

  • My team’s positive attitude throughout the entire Hunt.  It sounds like some other teams started feeling really cynical and negative about the whole thing as time went on.  Though we had our share of frustrations over specific puzzles, everyone on Left Out kept a positive, let’s-keep-having-fun attitude until the very end.  Since it was my first Hunt, I probably could have been easily caught up in a negative atmosphere, so I’m grateful to my teammates for being so relaxed and not taking things too seriously.  The whole experience was so pleasant, and all the encouragement and jokes kept things fun, even through the frustrating parts.
  • How close my teammates were.  There were hugs, and asking about the family, and reminiscing about good times.  Afterward, people mentioned that the Hunt has started to feel like a homecoming.  I’ve had that kind of experience in other organizations, and I love that it’s this way with my Mystery Hunt team!  I hope I continue getting to know these amazing people, maybe through other events over the year, and I look forward to seeing familiar faces again next year.
  • The pacing of the Hunt.  It seemed like this year was the epitome of the description “it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”  I think I had expected there to be some bursts of energy and excitement at intervals throughout the Hunt, but after the zeroth round the energy level stayed pretty static throughout the race.  Even when we did solve a puzzle, there wasn’t a lot of celebration, probably because it was more of a feeling of relief from an old burden than a victory (that, and each puzzle was a drop in the bucket).
  • How much I missed!  You would think that at such a slow pace, I would have seen most of the puzzles and been aware of what was going on all the time.  Wrong!  There were just too many puzzles, and then half of our team was working pretty independently in California.  For the most part, I was only aware of the puzzles I personally worked on.  I didn’t find out we had done a bad lip-reading video until they mentioned it in the wrap-up! Mike apparently went home and cooked some delicious exotic dish for Heist Test Kitchen!  There was an entire event I never noticed on the list until doing this write-up, since it happened while I was sleeping!  I can’t imagine what the faster Hunts are like.


I had some goals for the Hunt this year, did I meet them?

  • Learn all the names of my teammates – FAILED – Things were going really well at first.  I had met people in batches of 4 or 5 at a time, and I was remembering names.  At the time of the kickoff, I knew everyone on the team!  But then after the hunt started, random people started dropping in and I would be so engrossed in a puzzle that I wouldn’t even notice.  At first, I tried to at least introduce myself to everyone I worked on a puzzle with, but eventually I got lazy and didn’t even do that.  I think I only met a few new people after kickoff.  Maybe next year will be easier now that I know maybe half the team.
  • Learn the ropes of my team’s roles, responsibilities, systems, and tools – ??? – I think I learned our systems and tools pretty well, and I got a feel for the roles and responsibilities.  I think things were a little bit more disorganized this year as far as the roles go, and I actually MISSED my shift for the role I had signed up for!  Ahh!  Now that I know so much more, I think I’ll feel more confident in taking on a role next year.
  • Try to see a little bit of everything in the Hunt – ACCOMPLISHED – I got to go to two events, an “obstacle,” and do a puzzle where you explore MIT campus.  I also worked on a few puzzles in a group that would have been too intimidating for me on my own.  I made it to the kickoff, and I watched the wrap-up online.
  • Get caught up and have fun – ACCOMPLISHED – I definitely enjoyed myself, and when I noticed I was getting irritable, I did something about it.
  • See a bit of Boston – FAILED – I saw some of Chinatown (and actually passed by a place I had written a GAR bonus puzzle about!) and MIT of course, but there just wasn’t time for anything else.  Maybe next year!


Things I want to remember for next year:

  • It’s always more fun to work together in a big group.  Sometimes it takes someone saying “Hey, let’s all work together on one puzzle,” but its worth the effort to change things up every now and then.
  • If you see something interesting, like a puzzle being crocheted, or a bunch of bags of spices being identified, take a picture!
  • Events are fun, go to as many as possible.
  • I would probably enjoy one of the puzzles where you have to make something, anything.  Seek those out next year.
  • Pay attention to what time your event starts and how long it lasts.  Figure out if you’re going to miss dinner while you’re gone, and eat before!
  • Maybe try harder to schedule sleep.
  • As office organizer, maybe set some rules for the team.  Really, just throw away your drink cup before you go to bed for the night, if you’re done with it.  And throw away obsolete notes too.
  • Also as office organizer, use the bulletin board more.
  • Wear tennis shoes, fool!  There was more walking than I had expected, and my boots got a little uncomfortable after a while.
  • If at all possible, obtain a swiffer and mop the whole room before we start.  There was a layer of chalk dust EVERYWHERE, and everything you would put down (including your self if you sat on the floor) came back up covered in dust.  Now that I think about it, maybe that’s why I was sneezing all weekend!
  • Get better at puzzles!  Haha.  There were a few puzzles that I worked on for a long time, but got stuck near the end.  Los Altos ended up solving them, and the ending mechanics made sense, and I felt silly for not figuring them out.  I want to expand my brain and my thought processes next year, and become more able to explore and find the solution.


Overall, I had a great first experience at the MIT Mystery Hunt and I will definitely be back next year!  Though this Hunt was apparently quite difficult, that only makes me more excited for maybe a different pace next year.  If I survived this Hunt, I can survive anything! =)  Thanks again to Team Left Out for welcoming me, and to Todd for inviting me in the first place.  Can’t wait until next year!

4 comments on My First MIT Mystery Hunt – Wrap-up

  • Larry Hosken

    “maybe set some rules for the team”

    Don’t be surprised if sleep-deprived people don’t follow rules well, tho. Maybe set etiquette, e.g.: Throw out unattended cups; don’t get mad if someone throws out your unattended cup, they thought it belonged to a forgetful person who’d wandered off to sleep somewhere.

    • clavicarius (author)

      Ah yes, etiquette is probably a better term =)

  • Chris M. Dickson

    Thoroughly enjoyed this write-up; glad you had such a good time, thank you for sharing your experiences with us!

  • Jen

    Awesome summation – definitely seems like a puzzle hunt worthy of sleep deprivation! People’s attitudes really matter so much, don’t they? I’m glad you had such a welcoming team and positive environment – I can see how things could get tense and negative, especially with the pressure of time and sleep/food deprivation, so it’s great that everyone had the similar attitude of just having fun until the end!

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