This just in from Chris Morgan:
“Oh Dear, How Puzzling It All Is”
I am currently editing Volume 5 in the LCSNA’s The Pamphlets of Lewis Carroll series, this one about “Games and Puzzles.” In addition to all of the relevant pamphlets, I would like to get copies of any unpublished Carroll letters and other manuscripts that mention games and puzzles, so I can cite them in the book. I would also like to cite any games and puzzles that have appeared over the years that have been inspired by Carroll’s ideas. Any information about these topics would be greatly appreciated.
– Chris Morgan
Time is fleeting! If you can help Chris, please do contact him directly as soon as possible with the details of what you have. Thanks for your contribution to Carrollian scholarship!
Here’s a treat for those of you who love to do a crossword with your tea or coffee on Sunday: Clever USC graduate student Andrew Woodham has won the 9th annual USC Libraries “Wonderland Award” by creating a crossword puzzle with an Alice in Wonderland theme. To read about the contest, and download a PDF of the puzzle to solve for yourself, click the image or click here.
This is actually the second year in a row Mr. Woodham has won the competition, a feat which, contrariwise, is a “first” in the award’s history. The contest was the brainchild of LCSNA member Linda Cassady; she and member Angelica Carpenter were among the distinguished judges for this year’s competition. Congrats to Mr. Woodham and thanks to USC and Linda for sponsoring this contest!
Cards used in the game
Back in November we told you about Rob Stone, the game designer who rediscovered a lost Alice in Wonderland card game and published the rules for all to read online. Rob made that discovery while researching his own Alice-inspired game. His game, called “Alice: Adventures in Wonderland Board Game,” is now finished and he is raising funds to launch it using a Kickstarter campaign.
Rob’s game features two decks of cards—a player character deck and a story deck—and a story board, along which players move through the chapters of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Rob explains:
It was important to us not to add anything to the story; to remain faithful to the original work so that fans as well as educators would find in this game, a pathway to experiencing the characters, places and events in Wonderland in a way we call going beyond the book. It doesn’t replace the book or add to it, rather it transports the story into the three-dimensional space of a tabletop board game.
On the Kickstarter campaign page you can read a fuller description of the the game-to-be, and, if you like the sound of it, you can make a donation to help bring it to life.
The Game of Alice in Wonderland. Selchow & Righter, 1882.
Most Alice collectors will tell you that the very first Alice card game was Thomas De La Rue Co.’s The New & Diverting Game of Alice in Wonderland, printed in 1899. Thanks to research of Rob Stone, a game designer and game store owner in Fort Wayne, Indiana, we can now set the record straight.
When Stone set out to design his own Alice game he decided, most responsibly, to examine every Alice card game ever released “since the publication of the book.” In doing so he came across The Game of Alice in Wonderland, published by Selchow & Righter in 1882.
The game consists of 52 cards divided into two sets of 16 numbered picture cards and one set of 20 cards bearing numbers alone. The Lilly Library at Indiana University has the game and the images in this post, along with several more, are posted on their website. Unfortunately, as Stone discovered, the Lilly Library does not have the rules—those he eventually discovered at Kent State University.
Stone has posted a full transcript of the rules to The Game of Alice in Wonderland, along with the story of his most interesting quest, on his blog Game Lab. Thanks for some great research, Rob!
Cards from The Game of Alice in Wonderland. Selchow & Righter, 1882.
If a ginger cat dressed as an English bobby going by the name of Cheshire, Jr. gave you a mystery to solve, could you say no? If the one thing the white rabbit feared above all was Alice’s embrace, would you help him evade it? If the answer to the first question is no, the answer to the second question is yes, and the answer to the question “do you enjoy playing games on your phone or tablet?” is also yes, please read on.
Mirrors of Albion from Game Insight, LLC
Mirrors of Albion looks pretty intriguing. For starters, it’s free. For the main course, it’s a hidden object quest game inspired by both Through the Looking-Glass and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Christine Chan in her review on AppAdvice.com has a lot of praise for the drawings and visuals and she makes the premise sound interesting too:
“Cheshire Jr. will help you in the beginning by showing you the ropes. Basically, you will navigate around the city map, and various buildings will become accessible to you as you level up and make progress through the story. The game will feature various quests and objectives, which you can access by tapping on the Quest button when there’s an exclamation mark on it.”
“Free” always comes with a hitch and it seems that your playing experience can be enhanced–or, at least, accelerated–though in-app purchases. The game can be downloaded for free from the App Store, through iTunes and Google Play, or directly through your iPhone, iPad or Android device.
A Wonderland Story from Alchemy Games
A Wonderland Story, developed by Alchemy Games, is a sliding block platform game in which you help the white rabbit to escape from “Alice’s hugs” (the horror!) to allow him to arrive on time for his date with the Queen. Harry Slater in his review on PocketGamer.co.uk explains:
Rather than controlling the rabbit, you’re in control of the terrain. Each level is made up of a series of columns of blocks and gaps, which you can slide up and down. Your bunny walks to the right automatically, and you need to clear a path for him. Stay trapped for too long and Alice will catch up. And you don’t want that to happen.
Harry concludes that, though the games suffers a little from a surfeit of good ideas, the end result is still enjoyable. A Wonderland Story can be downloaded from the Apple Store for $0.99 and is available for the iPhone or iPod, or in HD for the iPad. There’s no mention of versions for Android phones.
We’ve already exhausted the ‘March Hare Mad-Hatter-ness’ pun on this blog a few years ago, but Lewis Carroll is making basketball news during the college playoffs! His contributions to bracketology were discussed at length at the Wall Street Journal in two articles:
In addition to writing “Alice in Wonderland,” Lewis Carroll was a mathematician who was offended by blind draws in tennis tournaments. So Carroll devised a method to ensure that the most skilled players would survive to the latest rounds.
So in the spirit of adventure, The Wall Street Journal put Carroll’s radical format to the ultimate test: this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament. If we assigned the 64-team field randomly, then played out the tournament based on the NCAA selection committee’s overall ranking for each team, what would happen? Would the teams that got unlucky draws or suffered early upsets still make it through to the late rounds? And would there be enough surprises to keep people entertained? [continue reading]
-Rachel Bachman, from “Introducing the Lewis Carroll Method,” The Count, Wall Street Journal, 22 March 2012.
The excellent illustration for the WSJ article by Scott Brundage
Then Bachman expanded the idea into a printed WSJ article:
When The Wall Street Journal undertook a search to figure out who invented the concept of the tournament bracket, nobody had any idea where the search might lead. It’s fair to say nobody imagined it would bring us to the same neighborhood inhabited by Alice, the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter.
After our March 17 story, in which we speculated that an 1878 pairings list from Wimbledon was among the first brackets used in sports, we received a number of letters offering fresh leads. The most intriguing one came from a longtime reader, Joel Chinkes, who lives in Luna County, N.M.
Chinkes had in his possession a version of an 1883 monograph written by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a 19th-century English mathematician better known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll. Carroll, as you may recall, is the author of Alice in Wonderland. Chinkes thought we should have a look at the monograph.
The monograph, “Lawn Tennis Tournaments, The True Method of Assigning Prizes with a Proof of the Fallacy of the Present Method,” is just about what it seems to be: a proposal for a better way to conduct a sports tournament. Let’s get one thing straight: Carroll didn’t invent the bracket. In writing this nine-page plan, his only goal was to make it better. [continue reading...]
-Rachel Bachman, from “A Bracket Through the Looking Glass,” Wall Street Journal, 23 March 2012.
In quasi-unrelated sports news, did you know the team name for Lincoln High School in Vincennes, Indiana, is the Lincoln Alices? Apparently they’ve been called that for so long that no one remembers why. (If anyone actually does know why, please tell us in the comments.) Anyway, congratulations on being the 2012 Sectional Champions!
Alice in Wonderland: Giant Poster Coloring Book (2012)
What color do you think Alice’s dress should be?
This coloring book contains two copies of each of twelve Tenniel illustrations – one in the original black and white to color as you please, and one pre-colored to frame and enjoy. The 12 by 15 inch posters are detachable and the book also contains the full text of the story.
The book was first published in 2010, but appears to have been re-released with a different cover on March 1 this year. Reviews of the original book on Barnes and Noble are very positive. The newer version is selling for around $9 on Amazon.
Detail from the original 2010 edition
Screen Shot of Level 6 from The Hunting of the Snark kids game from Hairy Games
This free kids’ game was added last week at the so-called bestonlinekidsgames.com. We were hoping for an action-packed hunting game on open oceans and strange islands or a shoot-em-up video game in the style of Deer Hunter. (Actually, when you think about it, The Hunting of the Snark has many scenarios that would translate excellently into a video game. Anyone care to join the Beaver hunting the Jubjub in an increasingly narrow valley?) However, this game from Hairy Games seems to be mostly a fork poking at pictures of Snark characters and getting its prongs bent. “The Hunting of the Snark is combination of mazes, jigsaw and hidden objects puzzles games. This game is crated [sic] of famous story of mysterious creature, Snark who lived in a lonely island and the quest of some brave explorers to find it, by Lewis Caroll [sic sic sic].” The game was designed by Long Leaf’s Friends, and the pretty cool art is by B. Rybacki.
Tidying up some loose ends from 2011, I found a couple of books that still deserve a mention. Comics and crosswords – what more do you need on a Saturday?
Pearls Before Swine collection by Stephan Pastis
Larry in Wonderland: A Pearls before Swine Collection gathers together almost a year’s worth of Stephan Pastis’s bizarre parliament of animals. In these strips, which ran between August 2009 and May 2010, Pastis really had fun with a Wonderland theme, introducing such characters as the Mad Ducker, Cheshire Snuffles, Tweedledum Pig, and Tweedledee Idiot Pig.
The book is currently only $6.49 on Amazon.
Mad Hatter Crosswords reproduces 75 puzzles from the New York Times. An admirably dedicated reviewer has identified them as the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday crosswords published between January 2009 and April 2010. The Mad Hatter connection doesn’t seem to go beyond the cover illustration, through it is true that crosswords go very well with tea.
NYT Mad Hatter Crosswords
The collection is published by St. Martin’s Griffin and is available from Amazon for $7.99.
It is a little challenging to blog about a computer game you have never played, but here goes… There was once a game called The Sims. The point of the game was to create virtual characters and then control their lives. It became the best-selling PC franchise in PC history. Then, last year, the makers launched Sims Social, a version of the game that can be played on Facebook. Now, to get to the point, screen shots from the latest release hint strongly (very strongly) that it will be Wonderland-inspired. Hooray!
Perhaps it would be more helpful just to show you a picture?
Another sneak peak screen shot, and some excited speculation can be found on Games Blog.