Want to join a worldwide hunt for $500,000 worth of gold coins?
You won’t have to pan for gold or hike around the mountains; the coins are on display in a bulletproof case at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. But they’re locked inside until someone finds a “key” using clues in a teen novel called Endgame: The Calling.
Could it be you? If you’re going to join this mysterious gold rush, here’s what you need to know.
Endgame: The Calling, written by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton, tells the story of a post-apocalyptic world where representatives of 12 ancient “original lines of humanity” must fight to the death to protect their bloodlines. Together with the authors, Google’s Niantic Labs created an Augmented Reality Game (ARG) based on the story, which brings some of its events to life in the real world.
And that’s where the treasure hunt comes in. Sprinkled throughout the book are clues and puzzles. As you solve more and more of these mysteries, you get closer to the gold. All you need to participate is a copy of the book, Internet access and a Google account, according to the contest rules.
While the story will eventually include two more novels, several shorter novellas and at least one movie, the challenge kicked off with the release of the first book in October 2014.
First, you’ll need a copy of the book; it doesn’t matter whether you choose the hardcover, paperback or Kindle or audio version.
Next, head to the official site to register. But it’s not a simple sign-up process; you have to solve a short puzzle before you can enter your Google account information and accept the contest rules. This is important -- if you don’t register, you can’t win the gold!
Then settle down with your copy of the book, and get to work.
In a word, yes. I barely unlocked a few puzzles before deciding someone with a much higher IQ than mine would need to solve the puzzle.
The puzzles are difficult to describe. Some are seemingly random numbers or word patterns you have to decipher, while others are odd pictures. I struggled with several of the challenges, though the game designers claim that anyone, anywhere in the world can solve the puzzles and win the gold.
To better their chances of solving the mystery, some people are collaborating on the puzzles through forums like Endgame Chat or blogs like Endgamers. Even though many people all over the world have been working on the puzzles -- more than 20,000 had solved the first puzzle within two weeks of the book’s release -- no one has cracked the code.
If you’re planning to join the hunt, you’re going to want to get started soon. If no one solves the puzzles by October 7, 2016, the contest will end without a winner.
Often compared to The Hunger Games for its premise, Endgame: The Calling hasn’t received great reviews for the story itself. “In the hands of a better writer, this would be an epic story,” one Amazon reviewer commented. As I read, I noticed plenty of plot holes and found the syntax irritating.
However, most people seem to be willing to overlook these issues for the chance to win $500,000. If you're good with puzzles, want a challenge and don't mind reading teen fiction, you might want to give Endgame a shot.
As if the chance to win $500,000 wasn’t enough, you’ll have two more opportunities to win even bigger prizes when the sequels are released. The second book in the trilogy is due in October 2015, and its prize is reportedly $1 million -- with the third book’s puzzles worth an additional $1.5 million.
Solving these mysteries won’t be easy, but it could certainly be worth your while to try. Good luck!
Your Turn: Have you tried any of the Endgame puzzles? What did you think?
Disclosure: We have a serious Taco Bell addiction around here. The affiliate links in this post help us order off the dollar menu. Thanks for your support!
Melody Hill is an online entrepreneur.