The Mystery Of A Lost Virtual Jewellery Hunt

The Mystery Of A Lost Virtual Jewellery Hunt

Jewellery is a unique part of many people’s lives, in no small part because many of the pieces we wear are not ones we buy but ones we receive from others, which gives them a story that other items of clothing simply do not have.

Many of these are received as gifts, such as a piece of heart jewellery from a lover, family heirlooms from wills, or other pieces as presents.

However, there was a wave of people who received pieces of jewellery from completing elaborate treasure hunts.

The most famous of these is the book Masquerade, but there were also virtual hunts such as Pimania where solving puzzles, often in a virtual world, would grant someone a real treasure.

Probably the most infamous example of this, due to it never being completed, was Swordquest by Atari, in part because it was the grandest treasure hunt that never was.

Swordquest was four games that were meant to release between 1982 and 1984, starting with Swordquest: Earthworld in October 1982, and spanning through Fireworld, Waterworld and finally Airworld.

Inspired by the Easter egg in the game Adventure, each game came with a comic book made by DC Comics that contained clues that combined with the clues in the game itself to create a solution that could be submitted to Atari for a chance to win a custom piece of real treasure.

In order of release, there was the 18-Carat solid gold talisman fitted with a sword and the 12 Zodiac birthstones, a chalice made of platinum and gold, a gold crown studded with diamonds rubies, sapphires and aquamarines, and a Philosopher’s Stone that was a piece of white jade with a gold jewel-encrusted box.

Each winner would then compete in a contest to win “The Sword of Ultimate Sorcery”, which was a silver blade with a gold handle.

At the time of release, each treasure was worth $25,000, with the sword worth $50,000.

However, the Atari shock, often known as the Video Game Crash of 1983 caused the video game market in North America to fall 97 per cent from $3.2bn to $100m. Atari was at the epicentre and would not survive in its current form.

In mid-1983, Swordquest’s contests were cancelled and the company was sold off in pieces in 1984, with Waterworld only receiving a limited release. Airworld would only be released in 2022 as part of a 50th-anniversary collection.

The lost three treasures (the crown, philosopher’s stone and sword) have never been found since, and are believed to have been melted down.

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