Kit Williams’ Masquerade

Hare

In 1979 a very talented artist called Kit Williams produced a beautifully illustrated “children’s book” called “Masquerade”.  Masquerade was designed with cryptic picture clues to the whereabouts of a valuable buried treasure in the form of Golden Bejewelled Hare.  The book was a huge sales and media success and triggered a massive international hunt for the treasure.   It set the scene for a growth in similar outdoor games based on solving cryptic clues.

As technology improved, so the means to offer and solve the clues changed.  First with basic mobile phones using SMS.  Then through the web and later through dedicated GPS devices.  Players began to form loose on-line groups or Social Networks that would either pool their knowledge or compete with each other in order to find the treasures.  Soon it became obvious that those involved would hunt for rather modest treasure – as it was the puzzle solving or gaming element plus social aspects that they really valued.  Collectively, this activity was known as “Geocaching”.   (As in, Cache meaning “hidden”).  Originally, the items were physical and hidden in containers.  But it was not long before designers started to offer games that only offered a virtual reward – often in the form of badges.  Then along came smart mobile devices that offered both the web and GPS with live Social Networking elements as standard and you can see how Geocaching has taken off.

You might be wondering what happened to the Golden Hare?  Well perhaps it would be no surprise to hear that it was eventually found – though through cheating, rather than puzzle solving skill.   The person who discovered the Golden Hare had an inside tip off – much to Kit’s (and the millions of legitimate hunters’) chagrin.  An ex -girlfriend of Kit was present when the Hare was buried…    It seems that if the stakes are high enough, then it is part of human nature to cheat in a competition.   That reminds me.  I’ve just thought of a new geo location game.  It is based on the card game, “Cheat!”

By Paul Bates (thepaulbates)

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