Forget foosball. The game of choice among top Silicon Valley execs is an elaborate Dungeons and Dragons-style chase, called simply, the Game.
Entry to the secret, 30-hour game is by invitation only, with a US$2,000 entry fee per player. Players and their teams have to bring their own equipment, and it is this part of the Game that can add up.
The Game was started in 1985 by a Microsoft employee, Joe Belfiore, who was influenced by John Fowles' novel The Magus. Under the patronage of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, it became really elaborate--organizers are said to have rented a skyscraper so they could turn on the lights on five floors to spell out a map reference.
"Every year the game takes a different form, from foiling a spy plot to helping a friendly alien escape Earth," one team leader told Britain's Sunday Times. "You follow 30 clues that can take you anywhere, so you have to be prepared for everything.
"I could spend up to US$1 million on equipment for our team, from the latest laptop computers, night-vision goggles and satellite receivers to electric saws, scuba gear and a microlight aircraft. We have to be prepared."
Cy Cedar who retired from Microsoft at 35, explained why these wealthy, thirty-something techies put themselves through so much trouble and expense. "We believe we are all pretty good at games. Our self-esteem in Silicon Valley is based on the fact that we think we are smart, so we constantly need to test that."
It's nice to know that with SirCam and Code Red chewing up the Internet, and with cost-cutting and layoffs decimating tech companies, Silicon Valley's best and brightest are sparing no effort to win that small black obelisk, in a secret game.