As the work day was winding down on Thursday, I was informed by a coworker that Friday's work day was canceled and that our entire division was having a "morale event." This seems to me like the kind of name AA would give to a group picnic or support circle. Come Friday morning, we hopped on some very large buses that were waiting outside and were zipped off to downtown Seattle.
We unloaded and headed into a tower nearby, navigating our way through a mall and going up six escalators to the top floor where we were ushered into a posh fashion club artistically decked in dark furniture with starkly contrasting white accents and brilliant pink decorations.
We seated ourselves at the tables as deep club music pulsed. It felt strange to be in a club during the day, light sneaking in through windows as neighboring skyscrapers leering pale in the daylight, clearly visible on the other side of the glass. We all talked awkwardly at the tables, eating the lunch they served, until a carbon copy of Michelle Dodge walked out in an orange jumpsuit with military accents and the word GO in shiny black letters on the back. She stood at the stage and started the show.
“Welcome to the Go Game! Look at the people around you at your table because they are now your teammates.” She proceeded with some brief instructions and a lunchbox for each group. Our group ended up with a yellow, weathered metal box with a marred picture of Bugs Bunny eating a carrot. “Open your boxes and let’s start.”
We opened the lunchbox to reveal a cell phone, a digital camera, two maps and a black permanent marker. Jumpsuit girl looked nothing short of amused at the looks on everyone’s faces as she instructed each group to turn on their phones. As the worn screen slowly flickered to life, jumpsuit girl in an ominous, theatrical flair said, “Welcome to…the Go Game.”
Our group crowded around the screen which again welcomed us to the game and, with some brief instructions, offered our first challenge. Go to the corner of 1st Street and Pine and press “go.” Do not press go before arriving at the exact intersection or you will lose points. We dashed down the escalators, dodging pedestrians who wondered why a group of adults were running around, holding an open cell phone out in front of them like a compass. We spilled out into the street with other groups and ran to the corner where we pressed go. Take a picture with all members of your group together and then select “prove” on the phone. It was here we discovered to the Go Game wasn’t an average scavenger hunt; it included riddles, historical questions requiring internet help and paid actors disguised as normal people which you had to find and interact with.
Congratulations! You now have 15 points! Now for your first real task, you are near the famed Pike Place Market! While many manage to master the art of disguise and deception here, an unlucky few have not. Near a portly porcine wanders an embarrassingly conspicuous tourist who would be overjoyed to point you in the right direction. If you find the correct tourist, she will respond only to the question “Are you from a small town?” with a key phrase which you will need. The task seemed deceptively easy, but the portly porcine (which means pig if you, like I, didn’t know) happens to be in what’s probably the most touristy point in all of Seattle, so spotting a “conspicuous” became a game of Where’s Waldo.
After a few minutes, we regrouped near the pig statue and Don exclaimed, “This whole place is full of tourists! How are we supposed to find the right one??” I turned to say something to him and noticed a woman literally six inches to his right wearing a Canada sweater, a baseball cap from the MidWest, a fanny pack, sunglasses and was holding a tattered map. “Umm, excuse me ma’am. Do you happen to be from a small town?” She turned her head with a sly grin and Don yelled, “Holy cow, she was right here??” She chatted excitedly for a minute and gave us a password to type into the phone, but not before we got a very touristy photo together. The only way you can advance in the game is by either getting the correct passwords at each clue, or guessing incorrectly three times, each incorrect guess costing you points.
Here are some of our other tasks which were written into sometimes-complex riddles. Some of the riddles were tough since I was the only native English-speaker on my team.
1. Video challenge—In nine minutes, film a scene from your favorite video game. We filmed a battle scene from Street Fighter II with Mike bobbing back and forth, fists out, like Ryu. After Mike defeated Xiao, I leap-kicked into the scene and Mike pretended to get hit. Coincidentally, a woman behind Mike was opening her car door right as he fell backward leading him to fall completely into her car, knocking her over and smashing his head into the car door. She had one scary angry face.
2. Look for a pirate near the waterfront lookout. You have 20 yes/no questions to figure out his favorite food, but you must ask them in a pirate accent. We found the character and I asked, “Arrr thar mate. We be lookin fer a pirate.” I got a blank stare back, accompanied by, “What?” Thinking he was simply unimpressed with what I felt like was a good pirate impression, I asked him again. “We be lookin fer a pirate thar sir. Have ye seen one?” The man looked slightly flustered, “Son I can’t understand a word you’re sayin’.” Awkward pause. “Aye, thank ye, mate.” The real pirate was down another flight of stairs. After 16 questions we found out his favorite food is marshmallow (whose favorite food is marshmallow?!) and the pirate gave us a bag of marshmallows.
3. How many large marshmallows can you fit in your mouth while retaining the ability to say the phrase "chubby bunny"? Don got seven, after which he gave us a password
4. Video challenge—In 14 minutes, film a ballet re-enactment of a historical event involving the whole team. We did a beautiful, moving piece about the Berlin wall coming down following which East and West Germans Riverdanced together. We were mildly embarrassed when some school, there on a fieldtrip, all stopped to watch us.
5. Inside the Athenian is a "magical maestro" who, if asked, "Do you know Harry Potter?" respond with a magic trick revealing a keyword. We had to walk through the pub, which is where part of Sleepless in Seattle was filmed, asking anyone who looked like they were either a musician or magician if they knew Harry Potter. A portly gentleman seated near greasy windowpane said, “Yeesss, I know that Harry fellow. He does magic! I do too!” and he pulled out a deck of cards. His tricks were rather impressive.
This picture was shamelessly pulled from Google
6. Go back and ask the magician one more question for a riddle with the answer. He did a neat coin trick and give us the next password disguised in a phrase—a phrase he had to repeat four or five times before we got what the word was.
7. The absence of what animal allows Pike Place to be "sanitary"? If you’ve never been inside that part of the market, absolutely everything is decorated with animals.
8. How many girls does it take to bake a German white rye? It's been done for more than a century in a certain shop along the market.
9. Special challenge—duel with another group in a dance-off on the street which had to be judged by a stranger (Thriller vs. the can-can). In a surprise upset, our team of five Indians, one Chinese, one Vietnamese and the least dance-capable American ever couldn’t put together a version of Thriller worth calling the winner. It was heartbreaking for us and nauseatingly hilarious for any passers-by watching.
10. Inside a nearby dairy shop is a hand-painted hen. While the hen looks like she’s right out of the 1970's, what event occurred in the same year the hen was actually painted? (Steve Jobs announced the iPhone [in 2007] )
11. In the market is a place that seems like a place Lionel Richie would love to hang out with other musicians of similar ire and fame from his era. Next to that spot is an unsuspecting reference to a mid-western U.S. city. Which city is it? After spending a substantial amount of time looking for references to the Midwest near a women’s clothing store, Don found a Milwaulkee Sausage sign behind a coat rack downstairs by a store marked “Earth Wind and Fire.” Don’t know how we overlooked that.
12. Photo challenge—take a picture of your team showing superhuman strength. We were about to do this when we encountered a bonus challenge… (the caped superhero walking the streets)
13. Bonus challenge-- Superwoman asked us to take a "compromising picture" with her. We asked a UPS driver who was parked there if we could use the back of his truck. While two guys in the group posed, pretended they were on lookout, Xiao stood defiantly shushing a shocked-looking George while the two girls and I were picking up Superwoman and stuffing her into the back of the truck as the UPS driver looked on.
14. Start walking back toward the Super Pink Lounge in downtown Seattle while answering some questions:
I. What movie is the following picture of a kiss from? (we never got it)
II. What logo or product is the following picture of a Q featured in? (Quaker Oats)
III. What female actor does this childhood picture belong to? (Brad Pitt – since when is he female?)
IV. What note do orchestras tune to? (A)
The first 10 teams back got a password for 100 bonus points. The club served drinks and oysters while the Go Game staff readied the closing presentation which consisted of each of our submitted pictures and videos. To date this was the coolest work function I’ve attended, despite the embarrassment of having the video of me ninja-kicking into Mike played in slow motion with sound effects for all of management to enjoy. Thank you, Jumpsuit Girl (whose name actually turned out to be Michelle after all).