DAGatha Christie presents: – Department of Decentralization + ETHBerlin

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Start honing your powers of observation and inference; ETHBerlinZwei will mark the debut of “The Spy Who Staked Me”, an immersive experience of intrigue, espionage, and strong cryptography, made by the rag-tag puzzlemasters’ guild going by the pseudonym of DAGatha Christie.

Like all truly good ideas, the fun starts with, and is defined by, a pun.

This particular pun is a hat tip to that genre of novel you might bring with you to pass the time on the train to the [modifier] conference in [city], [year]. The pulpy airport thriller. The adjacent-possible cyberpunk novella.

For those not so hip to Computer Science wordplay: DAG stands for “directed acyclic graph”, which is a type of causal model you’ve probably interacted with if you’re reading this, knowingly or not. Git (and more recently, GitHub) based projects are DAGs, Merkle trees are too. If you’re at all swayed by this ETHBerlinZwei promotion, you might like the nifty fact that a blockchain is just particularly effective protocol for enforcing a DAG that we can all agree on.

In our case, the game is a DAG, too.

“The Spy Who Staked Me” is a crypto-economic escape room, in which a party of 4–6 must post a minimum stake of ~$128 to play. Over the course of 60 minutes, the party will have the opportunity to solve the game levels and gain rewards to escape the room with more than that which was staked (~$128 more, if played perfectly :). Alternatively, their stake will partially or entirely slashed based on player behavior and choices.

Good Play is defined as the skill needed to solve puzzles and uncover secrets, of course. A party that plays well is one that moves forward through progressively harder challenges in the room, with only their collective observation, reasoning, and imagination. A party that solves each and every puzzle therein, without any assistance from a DM (‘dungeon master’), will leave the room richer than when they began.

Poor Play is, narrowly, the lack of good play, but it’s not the end of the game. Maybe you don’t get the reference in a piece of evidence you just uncovered, or just wasted 15 minutes Morse de-coding before realizing you were holding the damn key upside-down. Everyone needs a little hint sometimes, if not an outright push. In this game, such things come at a cost. Not your whole stake, but a little slice of it. If you are willing to buy your way to the end to claim each and every level you couldn’t solve on your own, the DMs will oblige. You are even entitled to the rewards for completion! But remember to think perfectly rationally before you ask for hints, and beware the sunk cost fallacy, and law of diminishing returns…

Bad Play is, broadly and finally, not working within the spirit of the game. It’s at the discretion of a DM to call out bad play. We can’t pin it down, but you know it when you see it: Asking friends on crypto-twitter for help with pictures attached. Busting open a combination lock with the wire clippers you brought along. You know, troll shit. This will result in an immediate stake slash, and (more gravely) derision and scorn from respected peers at ETHBerlinZwei.

The participation process for the escape room is going to be a little… cryptic. Follow @ETHBerlinZwei on twitter for an early chance at signing up, or wait for a more straightforward opportunity to register your interest and secure one of the (very) limited slots during ETHBerlinZwei.

Yours Truly,

DAGatha Christie.

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