Winners! Kotaku Australia's Stranger Things Competition

In the six years I've spent here at Kotaku Australia we've run some incredible competitions, but I can honestly say that this Stranger Things competition has been my absolute favourite. I don't think we'll ever be able to top it.

Just the scale — the hard work from the creators, the commitment by everyone who took part. I'm amazed. I am intimately aware of how difficult this puzzle was, yet so many Kotaku readers made it to the end.

First off, I want to provide a couple of quick thanks. To Junglist for helping put all this together, to the boffins behind the incredible Enigma Room for designing the puzzles, to game developer John Kane for building perhaps my favourite puzzle (the Zelda one). Also Sean Gardiner at SUMS, where you can find many more puzzles like these. Seriously, you should check out John's game and, if you live in Sydney, absolutely hit up the Enigma Room. I've done a bunch of Escape Rooms and I believe it's the best one in Sydney.

Okay, now to the winners.

This was a tough one to pick. As I mentioned before a large number of people solved the puzzle. Way more than I ever expected. So it was extremely difficult choosing a victor. We selected the winner for two main reasons.

1. His brilliant answer to the 'twists and turns' question on the entry form. 2. His commitment to helping others in the comments sections of each post. I wondered if people would still help one another when the prize at stake was so big, but this person was happy to help throughout the entire competition.

And the winner is...


B-ob AKA Beeawwb AKA Robert Bissonnette In his entry, B-ob actually provided a puzzle of his own. Which I thought was pure genius.

7 puzzles posited to scramble with our mind. Now to see my answer I'll posit one in kind. I come to bury Caesar, not to praise or sing. The French were more appealing for our #strangerthings.
Lav sgxeezlag zoalk fbx qv pha fvwfwznt necy hv uumj vfniortxk bugl lav srbie elbgkjk pvrr qipxk bb "CZALGEE" gru mygvty lh wiaj slm pn Akkkbv wny e Gelavuksni aaj mw La Xnzjavb wny e yhhzqkj. Ybmiam yg, B jpntyww dy "C" hetd aw nt "A" sgu aexeezll gnafzj ia zvrbsme ujvxi oarc kh zmr "CZWKZSY" pydi vcg gl ex. NHRXMJE impgew PYEEKMJPPTY - zzw tesjkv ytcqam twxe ia lvfga ws sw lav wuupv mpur. Zzsm naf g vvts bukew yfr gni gnghykk, lart "Ravvdh!" ubswfm nhrt imxyggnafz weyr me mv xyguw. Myea gkrbu, bukjw prs fagy t zmayw gy tozsyebag ny wnxiyouhp myqrj lg lflik xyx wcmfdwl kotkxyxy. Pbc wnxiyouhp ipbpnwv be tb nici apbyw oaf wrxi ctnovty txyiaj. Jfk zcpn s ntcunhpv iyqmk, zwegiam slm vce lwdefw puqgxaqgujk uvcnsi jhtmgnafz ff n smjlpwa uj eteteg, imxu buumya bervmez wmbvdw be tuk hrkr ebadv lvrik xf ulbgkj gni ojt gytukry. Hwkyacy xyta iyzjmbjm jgw kal agxsfzvsg, uv kal ubyl zndaa, zazla ws gdd.

In the spirit of the competition, I'll let you all try to decipher B-ob's puzzle yourselves!

Well done for being such a tremendous sport, and congrats on winning $6000 to spend on home entertainment gear!


These ten runners-up will receive a $100 Netflix voucher. Again, these were chosen on the quality of their answers in the final competition entry form. I wish there could have been a prize for every single person who got the right answer, but that just wasn't possible.

Thomas Zawko Mehul Gajwani Robert Douglas Dane Krams Kozo Morimoto Ben Harrison Nisreen Moosa Adam Hudson Shane Ludgrove Brad Hill

Thanks so much to everyone for playing. We also have a post coming up on the site at 1pm from the creator of the Stranger Things puzzle — this will explain the reasoning and thinking behind every single puzzle, including the meta-puzzle. It's fascinating, so stay tuned for that!

(Also, for those of you playing at home — the correct answer was 'Where is Will' but we also accepted answers to that question like 'The Upside Down place' or 'hiding'.)


    @beeawwb you magnificent bastard. A well-deserved winner.

    A few familiar names in the runners up too. You all owe me gum!

    Everything about this competition was amazing. Even though I wasn't allowed to enter, I really enjoyed the journey.

      Grats Bob!!! I had fingers crossed but, very happy to snag a voucher :D

      edit: but screw you im not solving anything else UGH

      Last edited 11/08/16 1:01 pm

    Congratulations winners! Disappointed to not win, but I did have a blast competing! Excited to see the explanation post

      Toughest comp to judge because I know how hard it was to get to that end point. Thanks so much for playing.

        No worries at all! Also, I'm not sure if I have yet congratulated you on your new position - so congrats!

    *More* puzzles? Screw that @beeawwb, my brain is now officially in the "off" position after that comp.

    Thanks to @markserrels, @junglist, et al for setting it up and selecting me as a runner up, though!

    Last edited 11/08/16 12:51 pm

      Yeah seconded, thanks guys it was really awesome!

    I feel annoyed that I didn't get around to trying to complete the final puzzle or the metapuzzle (honestly I just got lazy!) but a well deserved win, I think.

    So are you going to do a follow up post where the puzzles are all explained, for anyone who didn't keep up?

    Edit: yes, you are. Read the entire article next time, me, you dickhead.

    Last edited 11/08/16 12:56 pm

    FYI the puzzle above is using a "Vigenére Cipher"

    Using the code "strangerthings" it translates to:

    The strangest twist for me was spending half an hour convinced that the seven letters were keyed to “WHISPER” and trying to find out if Nessie was a Plesiosaur and if St Patrick was a hoarder. Giving up, I changed my “P” back to an “I” and arranged things in trailer order only to see “WHERISL” jump out at me. WHERISL became WHEREISWILL – the answer having been in front of me the whole time. That was a real theme for the puzzles, that “Eureka!” moment when everything fell in to place. Then again, there was such a sense of community as everybody tried to solve the puzzles together. How everybody pitched in to help those who were lagging behind. For such a valuable prize, helping out our fellow competitors became something of a mission or mantra, even though keeping people in the dark would serve to better our own chances. Perhaps that altruism was the strangest, or the most human, twist of all.

    Last edited 11/08/16 2:35 pm

      I tried exactly that and got gibberish. Thanks, Obama.

        I spent twenty minutes looking at Iron Maiden lyrics for the key before I bothered with basic cryptanalysis, which immediately told me the key was 7/14 letters starting with "strange"... /facepalm :P

      #SpoilerWarning :P

        Fixed! :P

        Also, congratulations man! Well deserved, I considered making my answer a puzzle as well but was afraid if they couldn't answer it my entry wouldn't count haha.

    congrats to b-ob, and also to the runners up. BIG thanks you to the creators and everyone who helped me along the way!!! at least my mind is at rest, i had the correct answer thankfully :D

    the WHERISL part certainly gave me grave doubts about the final answer though???

    Last edited 11/08/16 1:03 pm

      yeah, it was actually WWHEERIISLL (only one 'r' 's' and 'h' since those letters were represented by static images) - each pairing represented two letters if they didnt have a static pic

    Congratulations to B-ob, all of the runners up and a massive congratulations also to everyone who participated :)

    congrats to the winner, I actually suggested he reign in his hints to everyone. Boy do I feel stupid now. Thanks to all involved in the puzzle it was a wiiiiild riiide.

    Whilst dissapointed of course I didn't win, I'm really glad that @beeawwb was the winner, as I saw him always offering help to myself and others who were stuck with some of the puzzles in the comments section, and creating a puzzle to top it all off, a well deserved winner!

    The puzzles were just such incredible fun, maybe we can get another round of puzzles for Season 2? I certainly hope so!

      Based on this round's result, anything less than an answer based upon an ARG threaded through comments starting right now would be an Extreme disappointment...

      Last edited 11/08/16 1:46 pm

        An interdimensional geocache wouldn't go amiss either.

    Oh wow, of all the days for me to wake up late today had to be the one. Congratulations to the other winners, and a huge thanks to everyone at Kotaku, Junglist, John Kane, and Sean Gardiner.

    I have to say this has been one of the most fun contests I've ever taken part in. That sense of anticipation as each puzzle would drop, the mad rush to devour each new bit of information, and then that final Eureka! moment when it all drops in to place... So incredibly well put together. That alone was worth participating for.

      We mere plebs get to be satisfied with the joy of competing. You have to make do with just your obscene prize.

    Wee, runner up!

    A code as the response. So simple, yet so ingenious.

    Fantastic comp, guys.

    Awesome! Thank you for an awesome comp guys, had an absolute blast :)

    Thank you everyone for participating. This has been incredible to watch behind the scenes, and seeing you all take part and get involved ... it's been so much fun. Always brought a smile to my face, and massive props to John, Sean, Jeremy and the rest of the Enigma Room for the puzzles.

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