August 8, 2005
From: Gavin van Lelyveld

Hi Robert

So we did the 4-desk maze this last Friday night. I was actually quite worried that some of the guys would luck their way through in 2 minutes and that would be that. But that didn’t happen, much to my relief! We had about ten kids, aged 14-18 playing. The first participant finished in 35 minutes, by sheer luck, and the last one about 10-15 minutes later. Nobody really seemed to work it out, although one of the leaders saw the pattern so he directed the poor guy who finished last. That was great because we had about an hour dedicated to playing the game.

My leaders had a lot of fun being difficult and taking their time examining the forms and deciding which one to give back to the participant. Some of them would take the time to read the form to the participant and explain to them where to go. I didn’t man a desk but I had fun myself; you see I only printed out 15 copies of the forms. Now I know you suggested four times that much but it just wasn’t in my budget! It had a beneficial side effect though. I ran around collecting the forms, but instead of telling the participants to stop, I would time it so that I got the relevant desk just as someone was about to hand in their form. I would shout “Incoming!” and my bureaucrat would say, “I’m so sorry I just have to sort this out, please wait” and then take their time sorting the papers. Fantastic! I would highly suggest adding that in as it makes it much more bureaucratic and frustrating for the participants! (i.e. fun in a sadistic way).

Thanks again for designing this and setting it up. It was great fun and it runs itself once you explain to your bureaucrats that “you match the top left code on the form that the participant is handing in with the top right code from your piles of forms”. I would also suggest designing A5 versions of the forms as that would save on paper and printing costs!


Gavin: The first time I tried this maze, one of my voluneer bureaucrats would take time out to add up a list of numbers, while the line grew at his desk. At one point he put up a sign: “Back in 5” and took off for a while. I asked him to stop doing that, because I thought it was slowing down the maze, but he probably had the right idea. Making the maze more “bureaucratic” could be interesting.

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