|PIMANIA - THE SUNDIAL IS REVEALED !|
The Golden Sundial of Pi has been claimed and an era in computer gaming has ended.
On July 22nd, 1985, Sue Cooper and Lizi Newman, both of Ilkley in Yorkshire, stood at the mouth of a horse cut into the chalk hill of High and Over, near the village of Alfriston and Lithington, in the Sussex Downs. As they waited, soaking wet in pouring rain, the famous Piman clambered out from a clump of bushes and, to the strains of his own signature tune, presented the two lucky ladies with the coveted Golden Sundial. The Piman was, of course, the infamous Christian Penfold in uniform.
After drying out, the two ladies were treated to dinner at the Seven Sisters Hotel in Seaford, a couple of miles down the hill.
The successful Pimaniacs - Sue and Lizi make no bones about having been hooked on the treasure hunt - couldn't be called teenage gamesters. Sue is a teacher at Guisley Infants School, and Lizi the proprietor of a music shop in Ilkley.
Not normally addicted to computer games, they have been playing Pimania since early 1983 on a Spectrum. When I asked Sue for an estimate of the number of keyboard hours they had put in, she replied: "Very little, we knew it had to be a horse fairly early on, so most of our time was spent in researching where !"
The horse clue comes from the Pimania map, in the shape of Pegasus, the horse. So Sue and Lizi visited public libraries, and consulted books such as Collins Field Guide and Hill Figures, to try to decide on the correct 'horse' location. They visited quite a few, including one at Westbury, and this was their second attempt at a claim, the first being at Uffington.
The clue that pointed them to the correct geographical location was the fact that Pegasus is near the Seven Sisters of the Plough. Their search, after a misleading pointer to cambridgeshire in the Field Guide, finally put them on to the Seven Sisters cliffs between Seaford Head and Over.
However, they were not convinced that they had the right spot until they made a pre-visit the day before. They saw the large compass mounted on a pillar, close to the car park entrance at this beauty spot. They also noticed the inscription of Psalm 33 on a metal plate set in stone (and adjacent to Psalm 34 in the game) nearby. But it wasn't until they saw the view down into the Cuckmere Valley, where the river meanders to its outlet at Cuckmere Heaven, that they became convinced that this was indeed the view shown in the Pimania graphic when looking through the telescope.
"We both got immense pleasure from the game, and the research we did leading from it," she explained. "We have learned an awful lot about our country in the process," said Sue.
What about the unlucky ones, those Pimaniacs who had gathered for the annual ritual at various spots around the countryside in vain ?
"If we hadn't won the sundial it would still have been worthwhile, for the pleasure gained from Pimania depended on how much you put into it. Other Pimaniacs, I am sure, will agree that their effort brought its own reward."
I wasn't in Sue's good books when I spoke to her, for my July article had upset her. "It wasn't fair to suggest it was a rip-off," she protested. OK - apologies for any such implications, I take it all back.
Although I now live 20 miles away, I know the area very well, for I once lived in Seaford, less than two miles away, and my local was the Seven Sisters where Sue and Lizi dined.
There's a wonderful view from High and Over on a clear day, but although its a local beauty spot, the horse must have been difficult to research, for it is not an ancient monument. It was created by Canadians during the First World War. It has recently been restored.
"What will you do with the prize?" I asked. "That's exactly what we're beginning to wonder, because never really thinking we would win it, we hadn't planned how we could share it!".
At the moment, the Sundial is swapping mantelpieces every couple of days, and being shown off to friends and neighbours. One thing is certain, it will never be melted down and divided - Sue and Lizi are certain about that.
What a wonderful ending to the most talked about adventure game of all time - so far !
There's GOT to be another, and I can only think of two people who could do it. Mel and Christian, get your heads together again fast! I'll never doubt you again !
Article taken from Computer and Video Games - October 1985