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Hacker convention’s badge contains an old-school text adventure

The annual Def Con convention tried something weird this year and attendees loved it

@UnaPibaGeek via Twitter
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

The annual Def Con convention brings together hackers from all around the world to ply their trade and scare the living bejesus out of the rest of us. This year, attendees’ name badges packed a mysterious secret. As Ars Technica reports, once you plug them into a USB outlet, they boot up an old-school 1980s text adventure. Right now, no one’s quite sure how it ends.

Past Def Con badges have been made out of printed circuit boards, but badges for the 26th annual gathering take that to an entirely new level. Designed by Tymkrs (pronounced “Toymakers”) out of Rochester, Minnesota, there are eight different kinds. Some are printed in a different color and each one features a different design.

@UnaPibaGeek via Twitter

But see that circle on the bottom of the board? That’s a D-pad. On the right are action buttons. The whole thing is one big controller. When you plug it into a PC, that’s when the magic happens.

As Ars Technica writer and Def Con speaker Sean Gallagher explains, it’s more of a puzzle than a game. To unlock certain sections you need to monkey with the physical layout of the badge itself, tripping magnetic switches or flipping individual components on the board. Def Con formally ended Aug. 12, but attendees are still working on cracking the puzzle in a private Slack channel.

You can catch up on Reddit, where Tymkrs is running an AMA.