, “massively multiuser online entertainment · biology · space”

…is the personal weblog of Adrian Hon, featuring articles on massively

multiplayer online entertainment and science. The ‘middling’ and ‘tiny’

sections include more general posts and links.

When someone asks me what I do, I used to be able to say that I was

a neuroscientist. This was a wonderfully simple and, as it turned out,

apparently very impressive answer, especially when backed up with the

whole Oxford-PhD thing.

Unfortunately, those days are now gone. I left my PhD at Oxford in August 2004 to work in London on something called Perplex City

(formerly named Project Syzygy). Gone was the easy answer to that

standard question. For the first few weeks in my new job, I actually

attempted to give an accurate answer, which went something along the

lines of:

“Well, do you remember the movie A.I. by Steven Speilberg? See, Microsoft and Dreamworks SKG did this marketing campaign for the film…” and so on.

This wasn’t an answer that could last. Not only was it too long, but

people still didn’t understand what it was that I did. So I changed it


“I work in a multimedia entertainment company developing a new type of cross- platform game.”

Slightly better, but not really any more informative since I

generally ended up explaining the whole thing all over again. I then

made a radical change to it and now when asked, I simply say:

“I’m a puzzle designer.”

If they want to know more, fine, if not, at least we’ve both saved

some time. It’s not a particularly accurate answer but it’ll have to do

until Perplex City launches and I can just tell people that I work on


I do other things apart from being a ‘puzzle designer’. I’m the editor of New Mars

(which I have been horribly neglecting of late) and a member of the

Mars Society UK steering committee, and I hold several other positions

within the Mars Society International. In 2001, I was a moderator for

the Cloudmakers community following Microsoft’s AI online immersive game and wrote the Guide for the game.

I still retain a healthy interest in neuroscience and recently I

contributed a chapter to ‘Mind Hacks’, a neuroscience book being

published by O’Reilly.

Most recently with the very interesting The Reality Artificers: “How the BBC, Orson Welles, ancient Egyptian scribes and alternate reality game designers all follow the same 3900 year old tradition.”