“Find Satoshi” PerplexCity puzzle solved

Hacker News “Find Satoshi” PerplexCity puzzle solved

Is it possible to locate a man given only his photograph and first name? The answer is YES!

In 2006, UK-based game company Mind Candy tested the theory of six degrees of separation as part of an Alternate Reality Game (ARG). They gave us a photograph of a man, a name, and the Japanese characters that translate to “Find me”.

In 2020, thanks to the power of community, that person has been found!

Thank you everyone who helped participate in the quest to find Satoshi!

History

On July 31, 2006, an alternate reality game (ARG) called Perplex City released foil packs of puzzle cards ranging in difficulty from easy (“red”) to impossible (“silver”). Players could solve the cards and enter solutions into the website, to appear on a leaderboard. The game ended in 2008, and the website is now defunct.

Puzzle #256 was a silver card titled “Billion to One”. It features a man’s photograph and the Japanese characters 私を 見つけなさい (watashi o mitsuke nasai, “find me”). A Perplex City hint line gave the clue, “My name is Satoshi.”

Perplex City players identified the background of the photo as being in Kaysersberg, Alsace, France. (View the exact location on Google Streetview here.)

The FindSatoshi.com website was started in November 2006 by Laura E. Hall as a way to consolidate information about the search for Satoshi for quick sharing. (There were also several other sites by enthusiastic community members, as we all were eager to solve this puzzle!)

Laura was coincidentally near Kaysersberg in December 2007 for a work trip and was able to visit the town, standing on the same spot that Satoshi stood on for his selfie.

Mind Candy confirmed additional information about the hunt:

  • First, Satoshi had willingly agreed to participate in the game.
  • Second, he had to be contacted directly. If he saw the site, he wouldn’t reach out.
  • Third, he had been told a password, which he would reveal to whoever contacted him.

How Satoshi Was Found

Over the years, Laura received many emails and tips about Satoshi’s identity, but none resulted in a connection. The trail was cold, with occasional surges of interest when people found the site for the first time and shared it.

In 2018, Asher Isbrucker created a podcast about the project, interviewing Laura and Mind Candy co-founder Adrian Hon.

In February 2020, the YouTube channel Inside A Mind did a video about the project, generating a lot of community interest in the project, including the revival of the Reddit forum and a Discord.

In December 2020, Reddit user th0may used a reverse image search and discovered a photograph of a man holding a beer.

Further searching revealed more photographs of this man.

His freckles match up exactly! But we still had to get in touch with him directly—remember, he wouldn’t contact us, even if he saw the site.

His email was on his company website, so with the help of a friend in Japan, Laura composed an email in English and Japanese. And a day later, she received a reply confirming that this was indeed “our” Satoshi! (She has asked permission to share the text of the email, and will post here if it is granted.)

The creator of the puzzle, a former employer of Mind Candy, then confirmed that it was correct.

14 years after the hunt began, Satoshi has been found!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is this related to Bitcoin?

A: No. Satoshi Nakamoto is the pseudonym used by the person who created Bitcoin, but it’s not the same Satoshi.

Q: Did Satoshi consent to the search?

A: Yes, this was confirmed by Mind Candy at the start of the search:

“Satoshi has agreed to appear on this card and, of course, knows you’re looking for him. He isn’t hiding, but he isn’t looking for you either. If you track him down, he will happily provide you with the information required to solve this card, and will also be able to prove his identity as The Real Satoshi – you don’t need to coerce or harass him into co-operating, you just need to find him. Satoshi has no connection with any employee of Mind Candy or Mind Candy’s business partners – pursuing them for information will be of no use. Finally, Satoshi possesses no information regarding the location of Perplex City’s $200,000 Cube, so you needn’t interrogate him about that either! As always with Perplex City, you needn’t (and mustn’t) break the law – or be mean! – in the course of your adventures. With all that said. good hunting, one and all….”

Q: Should I contact Satoshi?

A: Please don’t! His agreement to participate in the game was limited to this one puzzle, and that is now complete. We are very grateful to him for allowing Mind Candy to use his image for the puzzle!

Thank You!

This wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of thousands of people. Everyone who read about the project, shared it with a friend, and chatted about it online made this possible.

Thanks to James at Inside A Mind for making the video about the Find Satoshi project and sharing it with your audience.

Thanks to everyone on the Find Satoshi Reddit forum and Discord for the many hours of research and conversation.

Huge congratulations to Reddit user th0may for finding the photo and making the connection to Satoshi. You did it!!

Thanks to Yanis Deschamps and Mt. MELVIL for help with translation and support.

Cheers to Chris Warren, who created the Billion2One website back in the day.

Thanks to the entire Mind Candy team for creating Perplex City, and to Jey Biddulph for creating this puzzle.

https://findsatoshi.com/

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