What is Get-a-Clue, and how do I play?A Get-a-Clue Primer for first-time players
Each year during the spring academic term, current and former members of the Georgia Tech Band, both students and alumni, participate in an event called "Get-a-Clue." Get-a-Clue is a game that is combination road rally, puzzle, contest, race, and bonding experience. (I said BONDING experience, you sick bastards.) This is a tradition started more than a decade ago, and the game is very loosely based on a 1980 Disney movie called "Midnight Madness." The winners of the game each year are responsible for planning the next year's game. And so it goes, in an endless cycle, such that we find ourselves planning the year 2000 edition of the game, and you are sitting there thinking about playing it.
The Game in Brief:
Participants in the game travel from location to location around the metro Atlanta area following the route by solving a trail of clues and puzzles. Over the course of the day your team will gather clues and solve them to determine clue sites then drive to the clue sites and search for the clue packet from which you will get your next clue. And you will continue in this manner until you get to the last clue, which will give you the location of a reception to follow the game.
Seems easy enough, right? It is. But since I have no idea just how much you know about Get-a-Clue, I will now go over it in excruciating detail.
"Participants in the game" Hey, that's you!
Get-a-clue is a team game. While it is theoretically possible for someone to play the game alone, I don't really think that person would finish. The idea of playing as a team is to combine your knowledge, skills, and resources to finish the game faster than the other teams. (That is, if you are actually trying to win; we'll go over the consequences of winning later.) The other main reason for playing on a team is so you have someone to commiserate and celebrate with as you successfully complete the various challenges of the game.
"travel from location to location around metro Atlanta area"
Get-a-Clue is a type of road rally. You will be playing the game from a car or van, and a good bit of your time will be taken up on the road. Actually, you'll spend almost the entire game driving around. That is part of why the game can take so long, since one component of the game is the physical time and distance you have to necessarily take to complete it. Also, the game takes place all over Atlanta and its suburbs. This means no one person will have an advantage because the game takes place in their old neighborhood. You would need at least three Atlanta natives familiar with all parts of town to gain a real advantage in playing the game - but I guess that's why it's a team game, right?
"following the route by solving a trail of clues and puzzles."
At the risk of sounding stupid, Get-a-Clue is a game of Clues. Clues are the heart of the game, and they are what separates this game from any other you might have played. Clues most often consist of a single piece of paper with something written on it, like a cipher, puzzle, diagram, phrase, or word problem. Clues can also be any small object, a physical puzzle or toy, or a marker of some sort. Each clue must be solved or interpreted to find the next clue site. Clues are usually (with very few exceptions) designed such that they are portable and can be removed from the clue site and taken with you.
"your team will gather clues and solve them to determine clue sites"
Some clues are easy, and some are difficult. At the end of each game, everyone always has different opinions about which was which. A lot will depend on who you have on your team, and what everyone's skills and talents are. Every clue has a solution, though, even if it is not immediately obvious. In solving the clues, you have a few advantages:
- You know the clue leads you to a location
- You know the clue was written by a Tech student, and a Band member. You should know all of the inside jokes and references, you took the same classes they took, and you are probably even familiar with the sort of places they would come up with. Even a freshmen, with their limited experience, has this advantage.
- You know it was written by someone who intends you to solve it. All the information you need should be in the written clue, or easily at hand from materials given to you by Game Control at the beginning of the game
- You can talk to the person who wrote the clue. If your photocopy is smudged, or you think the wording is unclear, or you can't make the proper intuitive leap, just get on the phone and call Game Control. You may be assessed a time penalty, although that would depend on how often you call, but you will at least be moving forward.
"then drive to the clue sites and search for the clue packet"
You figured out the clue solution, looked it up on the map, and now you are on your way. Clue sites are usually a place of business or some other locale that is found on the game map. Here's an important point: every site will be on the game map. Once you know a clue's solution, you are going to be able to find it. Now, whether or not your navigator can tell you how to drive there is another matter.
So, after a brief interlude in the vehicle while you drive out to this mystery site, you will be presented with your next great task: Where the heck is that clue envelope? Clue envelopes are located in out-of-sight, sometimes out-of-the-way places so people who are not playing the game won't see or mess with them. You, however, *are* playing the game, and you need that clue envelope so you can get your next clue. "Clue Envelopes" is a phrase we use to cover two different things. First, it refers to a small, letter-sized envelope that actually has your team's individual, personalized clue in it. This smaller envelope is addressed with your team number, as well as some identifying letters. The team number is so you can find which clue is yours; the identifying letters are so you can let Game Control know which clue you are currently working on. The other "Clue Envelope," also called a clue packet, is a large manila envelope bearing the legend "Georgia Tech Atmospheric Experiment - Do Not Disturb" written on it in big black letters. At each clue site, this big manila envelope is the one you will be searching for. Inside this big envelope is your next clue, along with a bunch of other clues, one for each team. Once you've found the clue packet and removed your clue from it, you are ready to start the cycle over again by solving the clue you just picked up.
"And you will continue in this manner until you get to the last clue,
which will give you the location of a reception to follow the game."
Every game needs rewards. Even for the losers, Get-a-Clue offers some rewards. If you finish the game within a reasonable amount of time, you will be there for the end-of-game reception in time to actually enjoy the party. It doesn't matter how you got there, or how fast, because the party is the same for everyone.
So that's it, the whole game. Well... not quite. Here is some stuff that didn't quite fit into that cute little paragraph at the top of the article.
- You will always be in touch with Game Control. You are required to call in to game control as soon as you find each clue. This accomplishes two things: 1. Game Control now knows your current location and also at what point in the game you are. 2. Game Control knows you're not dead.
- Each clue comes with help clues. If you use a help clue, you will be assessed a time penalty, but hey, at least you're not sitting in a parking lot after midnight still stuck on your third clue. Particularly for beginners, I heartily recommend that you go ahead and use your help clues if you think you have to. You gain nothing by ignoring them.
- You are expected to obey all applicable laws. Specifically, you need to obey the traffic laws. (So if you plan on speeding, also plan on not getting caught.)
- There is at least one break in the game. Traditionally, this rest period is called "halftime" and usually does happen somewhere in the middle of the game. When you make it to halftime, you can rest and hang out for a bit, because you will be off the clock. You can also grab a bite to eat and some cokes as well.
- There are consequences to winning.
I probably forgot one or two points along the way, but this is more
than enough to get you started. Read the other resources we have posted
on this web site, and get planning. Get-a-Clue awaits!
Matthew Blind and
Team Blues: Get-a-Clue 2000 Game Control