No announcement yet.

The real story behind "Find Leeto"

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • The real story behind "Find Leeto"

    It's been a couple of years, and it's come up more than a few times, so us Ninjas wanted to come out and explain what "Find Leeto" was all about, and why it's not going on at Defcon 14.

    If you remember back to Defcon 11, there was a little hubbub about a kidnapped hacker named "Leeto Burrito". The whole thing was an obvious farce, but what most people missed was that it was the entry point to an intricate alternate reality game that Ninja Networks had designed for Defcon.

    The details are here:


  • #2
    Originally posted by barkode
    Actually, "Find Leeto" was an intricate Alternate Reality Game 5 months in the making that was designed and executed by Ninja Networks. I oversaw the project....
    Wow. I'm speachless. That is so freaking cool. It pisses me off I wasn't there to play! Since no one caught on I will now never have a chance!

    Its shocking to me that this event wasn't a huge success. Its right up the alley of everyone on these forums. A lot of Defcon attendees are very paranoid though. Maybe this played into their delusions enough that it scared them away. I think this type of event is worth another shot though. Although, I am not the one who has to pay for it.
    The dude abides.


    • #3
      The real story behind "Find Leeto"

      Yeah, I skipped 11 too, but luckily, leeto must have been freed by his kidnappers, because I think he has an account on the forums (leeto burrito.) ]:>

      Heh, great idea for a game, but I am guessing many of the would-be players might have been drunk, or may not have realized it was a game.

      Defcon attracts lots of people--including crazy people. I don't know how I would have reacted to a person who was recruiting like this at Defcon, but I don't think I would have asked for any posters or business cards. If this game had a table in the contest area the first day, with someone who let people know to find the guy handing out the business cards and posters, perhaps it would have had more players.

      However, I didn't get a program from DC11 though. Perhaps it was described well enough in the program.


      • #4
        I heard he was found naked, wandering the desert with a half empty bottle of habanero rum and sharpie markings from head to toe...
        if it gets me nowhere, I'll go there proud; and I'm gonna go there free.


        • #5
          wow! oh my god, that is absolutely one of the coolest endeavors i've ever heard of at defcon. i'm sorry it didn't turn out according to plan.

          Originally posted by barkode
          Honestly, we put a -ton- of work in on this and spent a nice chunk of change, and I was really disappointed that the defcon crowd completely missed it. ... Basically, the project was a failure. Despite our best efforts, including our actor walking around con giving business cards to anyone that would take them, only a couple groups of people picked up on it, and even they didn't make it past the first 2 or 3 steps. ... We thought about doing it again the following year and making it more officially known, but decided against it. It was a lot of effort and the payout was abyssmal.
          my comments on the matter...

          it's so terrible that most people didn't participate... but i would blame a lot of that on the fact that no information was given in the printed program. almost everyone whom i knew was interested in the whole "leeto" concept... we were wondering what it was about and curious as to what it could be, but there was nothing -- zero, zip, nada -- in the program to encourage action based on this curiousity. remember, most of the defcon regulars aren't the people you see with laptops glued to their bodies, spending hours and hours laying in the hallway and playing on the network. i'd say many of my friends are lucky if we connect at all in order to check mail once during the whole weekend. while the insertion of a URL next to a cryptic image is enough to get someone like me to fire up mozilla and see what's what in my daily routine, at con i simply couldn't be bothered with finding a computer, getting a connection up, and taking time to browse the web.

          if so much as a cursory summary of the plot that you've described was in the program, damn... i would think that at least a third of all the people i was with that year would have took a whack at it.

          i don't know much about the secondary indicators (the flyers, the actor handing out cards, etc) but i certainly didn't recall seeing them anywhere. and, remember, i was actually curious about the leeto game.

          as for those participating, i could see how many didn't get far. the description of the steps that people would have taken in the contest are mind-blowing... but i would doubt that out of five hundred participants, no more than two or three could have ever managed to figure out each and every clue. unless teams were put together in large numbers (like a force of a dozen or so people constituting an "investigative squad") i doubt any one would have had the requisite mass of knowledge. if, on the other hand, there were multiple tracks of progress and duplicate clues in the earlier levels (say, if a person figured out three clues they could get to the right place but they'd be at a disadvantage to someone who had solved seven previous puzzles) that could have given people a fighting chance.

          personally, i'd say please don't count this sort of contest out. now that we all know what you were trying to do and have a basic idea as to how such a contest would run and how clues might be arranged, i'll bet you could run a game such as this again and there would be LOADS of participation.

          i can't help but reflect on how someone like Grey Frequency, Renderman's g/f, would be a terrific person to participate on a team in a game like this. she is the epitome of what makes our community special and unique... while she's totally at home and comforatable with tech matters, she's also curious about and captivated by things that so many other people just don't notice.* games and activities that bring together hardcore techies (like those who know codes, data discovery, etc) and inquisitive types (who can see things with fresh perspectives) make for great fun and teach the lesson that true security and strength skills come from diversity and working together.

          * here i am specifically thinking of the "badge edge puzzle" from ShmooCon 2006, where attendee badges were made from custom cut sheet metal. the outer edges of these rectangular badges were not straight lines, but wavy and jagged patterns. what most people dismissed as just decorative was recognized by Grey to be a series of interlocking shapes... like the pieces of a puzzle.
          Last edited by Deviant Ollam; March 16, 2006, 19:49.
          "I'll admit I had an OiNK account and frequented it quite often… What made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world's greatest record store… iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up. I feel like I'm being hustled when I visit there, and I don't think their product is that great. DRM, low bit rate, etc... OiNK it existed because it filled a void of what people want."
          - Trent Reznor


          • #6
            Wow- I mean wow. Good Job to the Ninja's et. al. that set this up, reading the recap sounds amazing- it sounds like it would of been a lot of fun with the right people.

            Maybe something more structured would be better- true finding this game is probably half the fun- but getting people's attention at con can be hard with all the distractions (talks/friends/alcohol/shiny things etc.) Coming out and being blatant in the program about it "Hey, there is an alternate reality game going on at con, see if you can find it and play it" might of helped.

            Regardless of what happened... everyone that put that on deserves "mad 1337 props" good job to everyone who put time/effort/money/brian cycles into the event.


            • #7
              barkode, you're crazy. But in a good, creative way.


              • #8
                And if we had information before the print deadline of the program I would love to promote something that rich and complicated and challenging!
                PGP Key:


                • #9
                  heh.. man, I recall meeting at the place..and coming up with the 'tests' and 'challenges'. Hard yet.. encompassing everything that swirls around DC. Maybe a bit more upfront notice that it WAS A GAME.. Would have helped.

                  Never know when something like this will pop up again. ; )



                  • #10
                    Do we want it to be KNOWN to be a game? (See THE GAME movie)


                    • #11
                      Re: The real story behind "Find Leeto"

                      Perhaps in the future the game could be recreated with different clues and etc pre con, having the conclusion to find leetos location at the con. That way people can follow the clues and web traces and all those really awesome ideas from the comfort of thier non sniffed, convient and non distracted by talks, alchol and scene whores network. Then if they have all the clues and have made it far enough they can complete one or two more challanges during con to locate the kidnapped victim. I think this was a great idea you came up with and i wish i had been able to participate, I give major kudos for your idea :-) I would like to get this started again. Its probably too late for this year, but by next year we could have an appointed council to host this? Something similar in administration as CTF has been? Damn I really love the Leeto Idea and think that it could really take off with a little more advertising. I would think the FEDS would like to play, too. :P Perhaps find one or two of them to contribute.
                      "Haters, gonna hate"


                      • #12
                        Re: The real story behind "Find Leeto"

                        Holy hell. I would have loved to have been part of that game. I never would have suspected a group to have been that creative. But i guess i underestimate the power of Defcon goers. In fact, thinking back, i do recall finding clues all over the place about leeto. and i think i even brought up the idea to my friends that it would be really cool if it where this secret realitly game that you had to follow. But my idea ended there. And i continued drinking. I think i did see that picture that said look closer, but i guess i was too stupid to figure it out.

                        I would definately be intrested in playing such a game, if and when i find out that such a game exists again.
                        Last edited by twincat; July 28, 2006, 20:33.


                        • #13
                          Re: The real story behind "Find Leeto"

                          I really like to hear about people putting effort in like this- I'm sad to hear it wasn't better received.

                          The Mystery Challenge is a microcosm of this type of contest- and it can be lots of fun. I hope that the challenge goes over well, for the same reason I'm sad that Leeto fell through. I want to be in 'mysterious' challenges like this- so I am trying to create them for others...