Useful knowledge

  • How many people per team?

    We recommend teams of 2-4.

  • I've never done this before! What do I need to know? What should I have?

    Check out the Tools & Links Page. It's probably a good place to start. Otherwise, more brains will always help (ideally, brains in the heads of other living human beings. Please don't steal brains and stick them in jars. That won't help you as much).

  • Who's sponsoring this?

    ACM and IMO. Please peruse our Credits Page for more details.

  • Help! I'm stuck on a puzzle! I don't know how to solve this!

    Find some friends and get a new pair of eyeballs on it. If your team is really stuck, contact Game Control and we'll give you hints. Taking hints will not incur minor time or point penalties. But bear in mind that between monday through thursday, Game Control will be at our normal daytime jobs, so our response times will vary.

  • So it's ok to ask for hints? Or submit completely wrong answers?

    Yep! Especially for those who haven't played puzzle contests before, please don't be afraid to ask for hints, or ask if you're going in the right direction!

    There are no penalties for getting things wrong, so don't be afraid to try completely incorrect answers. The system is set up so that certain keywords might reveal the fact that you're on the right track, especially for harder multi-layered, complex puzzle. However, we do track answer submissions, and if you start spamming the server with answers, we will know. (We get email reports of all the answers submitted every hour. Getting a 50-page long list of all the words in the dictionary does not please us.)

  • Will you ever lie to us?

    No. If you're asking for hints, we may opt to be vague or indirect, but we will never intentionally provide incorrect or misleading responses.

  • Do I need to be on campus to play?

    Not for the puzzles during the week, before the conference. If you can't get onto campus for Friday and Saturday, please let us know, and we'll do our best to pair you up with a team on campus. Note that it's highly unlikely that we will mail prizes, so if you to win something, you'll have to rely on your on-campus teammates to ship you stuff.

  • So, how do I win all the goodies?

    The first three teams to solve the meta-puzzle will win prizes and glory! And then we'll have follow-up prizes for teams that weren't the top three, but did well during the weekday.

  • Finally, some things to keep in mind:

    • Individual puzzles shouldn't take more than 8 hours - please, for the love of all things shiny, ask for hints before then!!!
    • We won't be sending you off-campus. If you see something that looks like the GPS coordinates of somewhere far away, that's not right. Please, PLEASE, PLEASE don't rush online to buy a plane ticket to Paris. (However, if you want to buy me round trip tickets to Japan, that's definitely ok.)
    • If you see the words "Red Herring" in your answer, that's not the right answer. Also, we're pretty specific, so if it says "This content is a red herring", we do mean "content" (letters, etc) are misleading, but its delivery method might not be...
    • If you're new to this, don't be afraid to try out stupid things. There are no stupid questions.
  • Contact info:

    For general site related questions and problems, we can be reached at GameControl (AT)

    If the site is broken, please direct all flames and hatemail and bug reports (what were you doing, where were you, what did you click, and what did you see) to ben (AT)

    Lastly, please keep in mind that Game Control consists of two people who are both employed at full-time jobs, one in Chicago, one in California, so our response times during standard business hours may be slow.

  • Who's the best pony?

    Twilight Sparkle is still the best pony!