A.J. Jacobs Has Murder Mystery Puzzles on the Brain
In our newest virtual game, Puzzled to Death: A Virtual Game of Murder Mystery Puzzles, the owner of a local board-game store has been murdered… and the killer has hidden clues to their identity in a series of perplexing puzzles. Created by best-selling author A.J. Jacobs (The Year of Living Biblically and Thanks a Thousand), it’s a virtual game packed with murder mystery puzzles and mini-games that might look familiar, but each comes with a twist. Contact us to learn more and schedule your group’s private Puzzled to Death game.
In that spirit, author A.J. Jacobs joins us to discuss the new game, and his new book:
All About Teamwork
I believe a good team building activity should be sort of like Ocean’s Eleven (or Twelve, Thirteen, or Eight). In those movies, all the (very attractive) thieves have their special skills. There was the safecracker, the hacker, the super-flexible guy who can squeeze into tight spaces. No single person could have pulled off the casino heist themselves.
Same with team-building activities. You want different team members to bring different skills to the activity (hopefully ones that don’t involve criminal activity). You want everyone to shine. If the activity is a Watson Adventure scavenger hunt or puzzle game, maybe one teammate can help solve the wordplay, another can excel at observing little details, a third can show off his or her logic skills. It drives home how important teamwork is, and how crucial it is to work together, not individually.
This is one of the lessons I learned when creating Puzzled to Death, Watson Adventures’ latest online game.
Creating the Game
I got the opportunity to write Puzzled to Death for two reasons. First of all, I’m an author, and I’ve been researching puzzles for two years for my upcoming book, The Puzzler: One Man’s Quest to Solve the Most Baffling Puzzles Ever, from Crosswords to Jigsaws to the Meaning Of Life. Second, I happen to be married to Watson Adventures President Julie Jacobs. (Thanks, Julie!)
Puzzled to Death is a murder mystery in which players have to solve a series of puzzles to try to figure out who killed beloved local businessman and board-game shop owner Milton Parker. I co-created the game with Watson Adventures Senior Editor Ryan Greene.
Before we started, we agreed on the importance of a variety of puzzle types. For instance, one puzzle is a word game, sort of like the New York Times Spelling Bee. Another is a classic logic puzzle, like the board game Clue. There’s a puzzle involving spatial relations, and there’s one featuring trivia. And so on.
We wanted to appeal to different types of minds. And we wanted to drive home how crucial it is to draw on the diverse skills of each person on a team. Some problems can only be solved with teamwork.
It’s also good to try to appeal to different demographics within each puzzle. I wrote a game that is a spin on “Name That Tune.” In my first draft, almost all of the songs were from the 1980s. This is because I’m a Gen Xer and have a pathetically limited knowledge of recent music.
But I got my niece to help me update the game with some new music. This way, both younger team members and less young ones can participate. (I’m not ready to use the word ‘old’ for myself, so ‘less young’ is my euphemism.)
It was a lovely experience writing this puzzle hunt. Or co-writing it. As with everything, teamwork was key. It was a team effort involving Ryan, Watson Adventures founder Bret Watson, and my wife/boss Julie Jacobs.
Contact us to learn more about the new Puzzled to Death: A Virtual Game of Murder Mystery Puzzles and to schedule your group’s private game, available just about anytime, anywhere.