News round-up for early June 2017

News round-upThe news goes round and round and round and eventually up, so here are some things you may have seen or may have missed, with links varying from the artistic to the competitive but making interesting steps in between. Many, but far from all, of them come from the not-so-secret secret Escape Room Slack, which has recently reached 300 members. Slack is a real-time chat forum; if you’re old like me, think IRC – or if you’re very old like me, think of a talker. For a 300-member online group, it remains surprisingly overwhelmingly well-mannered and friendly, and highly knowledgeable and often very funny. The volume can be high, but the #uk-general channel is more focused.

1) Here’s a step towards something really exciting… though, perhaps, only a baby step. The Crowne Plaza hotel in Melbourne is now offering a hotel suite complete with its own in-room escape game within, available now and until the end of August. You’re looking to pay more than AU$100 supplement over the cost of a suite without the escape, and the supplement gets you a 45-minute game to play. I’d be prepared to pay a hefty premium for the privilege of staying somewhere with a mystery to spend, say, a long evening diving deeply into, and it’s also true that people will pay considerable convenience fees for goods and services to be delivered to their hotel room rather than going out to a destination – so if there can be room service food, and room service movies, then why not room service escape games?

2) Towards the higher end of what the genre might be, Broadway World covers the recent launch of immersive experience The Path Of Beatrice, developing upon the themes of Paradiso: Chapter 1 which launched last year. Investigating further, I get the impression that it’s not a direct sequel so much as a wraparound that can be played before or after the central escape room itself. The ticket price is… not just more in line with that of interactive theatre than that of escape rooms but half an order of magnitude higher again, but perhaps the prospect of a multi-day experience is commensurately ambitious.

Ticket buyers for The Path of Beatrice will embark on a journey comprised of multiple short, location-based episodes that explore the complex backstory of the Virgil Corporation and the mysterious narrative of Paradiso: Chapter 1. Each experience will feature a series of unexpected and suspenseful events and missions that reference David Fincher’s early masterpiece “The Game” and the cult classic “The Institute.” The experience will unfold with the exchange of packages, virtual correspondences, and interactions with performers and other players delivering clues in unlikely, site-specific locations around the city.” There are plenty of reviews of Paradiso: Chapter 1; the one from Room Escape Artist may be the most relevant.

3) I covered DASH 9 fairly extensively, but somehow failed to discover that there was a survey held afterwards about the event. Around 160 teams replied, but reply rates varied heavily from location to location – for instance, most of the Fremont teams replied, but very few of the San Francisco ones did. (And none of the London ones, for that matter.) Broadly highly positive, encouraging stuff, but the nuance is worthwhile. The set-piece big physical puzzle was the most popular in its two appearances; the transparency jigsaw, the cryptic crossword variant and the final AR puzzle were the least popular, though still far from widely panned. It’s not immediately clear whether the puzzle styles were inherently unpopular or just the way they were executed. In other news, there’s convincing evidence that lots of teams had silly names, and quite a few teams had rude names, for some of the glyphs we encountered along the way.

4) Iain, who was lead GC for the excellent DASH 7 in London and who has kindly posted a few articles at this very site, points to a description of how someone staged a pop-up escape game at an adult retreat. There are a few very cute ideas in there which might set your mind in motion if ever you have interest in staging the poppiest-up of amateur pop-ups for your own entertainment. The title of the piece will set the theme, as well as clue you in to where the retreat took place: Escape Room: Lesbian Relationship Edition!

5) Heading from the more artistic to the more competitive, there’s a very interesting-looking attempt at a Polish Escape Game Championship taking place now. Teams must be made up of members of the lockme.pl industry-wide site (bookings facility, news site and social network of sorts) and start by an online qualifier of a NotPron-style decode-the-images-into-passwords puzzle trail. In each of five regions, 12 teams will make it from the online qualifier to a live regional final, and the best two of those twelve will go forward to a national grand final. The national final will be played by those ten teams at the WroEscape conference at the end of October in Wrocław. What an exciting initiative!

6) The Crystal Maze will return to Channel 4 on Friday 23rd June and they’re starting with another Stand Up 2 Cancer celebrity special; TellyMix reveals the line-up of five, and the official trailer looks pleasingly authentic. (It has been suggested that there will be 41 different games played over the 20 episodes, which is respectably varied.) As ever, the maze itself is the star, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing the games. Less seriously, NewsBiscuit wraps up the last piece of outstanding business from the original series decades ago.

A highly-regarded and reasonably well-known UK escape room posted today that Jonathan Ross, Jane Goldman and at least some of their family came and played at their site, and apparently did rather well! It’s not the first site at which they are known to have played, and I have a suspicion that it’s not their second site either – they’re famously a family of gamers of many different styles. Accordingly, it’s very tempting to imagine that they’re begging – begging – their agents to get to play one of the celebrity episodes of The Crystal Maze. (It’s possible that Ross has a TV deal which restricts him to ITV which might rule it out, but he’s certainly done comedy for Stand Up 2 Cancer on the channel in the past.) They’re certainly more famous than most of the members of the celebrity team listed above!

7) Finally, Escape The Review have recently committed a truly heroic piece of blogging: a guide to escape rooms in Europe. “Europe has a thriving, complex escape scene, and the games I’ve played myself around various European cities are only a tiny fraction of the games available. So the information here is based on recommendations from other enthusiasts, reviewers and owners, in many cases taken from the Escape Room Enthusiasts group on Facebook, plus links to relevant review and directory sites. Where an area is well covered by local blogs and directory sites, I’ve linked straight through to those; where suggestions come from other sources I’ve attempted to combine them into a brief summary.” At the very least, it’s an amazing starting-point for more specific investigations. What a spectacular piece of work!

Coming soon to London: A Door In A Wall presents “Horses for Corpses”

"Horses for Corpses" by A Door In A WallEvery time London interactive theatre company A Door In A Wall (for the company capitalises its words, even if its logo remains lower case) announce a major new work, this site gets excited. Spring and Autumn of the past few years have seen hit after hit, and this site has got excited about them more than a few times. One of those times of year is coming up, and the company will be putting on Horses for Corpses.

The ad didn’t say much: “Investigators wanted. No experience necessary.” Some horse trader apparently. You didn’t know much about riding, but you weren’t going to look this gift in the mouth. If only you’d asked a few more questions out of the gate…

Now you and your friends are finding out that racing is a murky world. It seems like everyone’s got form and the going ain’t easy. Somewhere amid the stalls and stables is the truth, and you’ll have to find it, otherwise it’ll be you who’s in the running… for murder.

There are a couple of slight differences to the usual A Door In A Wall format. Teams of 3-6 are suggested (though teams of 2 or 7+ are OK) and up to ten players (so perhaps 2-3 teams, or maybe even 4 tiny ones) get to start in their own private briefing in one of six 20-minute slots offered each afternoon or each evening. After the briefing, you have 2 hours 40 minutes to investigate, then the same players from the private briefing present their conclusions in a private debriefing and determine whether or not they have cracked the case correctly – so the whole thing lasts 3 hours 20 from start to finish. The event is offered on Tuesday to Sunday evenings from 5th May to 28th May, with weekends having additional afternoon matinee performances and a pair of performances on Bank Holiday Monday 29th May rounding things off. The venue is Camden Market, so plenty of good opportunities (and time within the schedule, too!) to grab something to eat and drink along the way.

This site really loved the review of a previous event at The Logic Escapes Me, which suggests precisely what sort of things might be involved: varied puzzles, highly immersive environments and plenty of characters to interactive with. From a starting-point that readers over here might be more familiar with, start with DASH, dial the interactions, interesting locations, storyline and pun fun up, then dial the puzzles slightly down, but not out altogether. (Ah, the things you can do when you are running an event 30+ times, with a professional budget, rather than once with just volunteers.) Book your tickets soon before the remaining dates sell out!

The latest links

A golden chain of linksRather than contrive a connection, perhaps it’s best to be blunt and just say that this site thinks the subjects of these links are cool and hopefully you may do too. Let’s start with some interactive theatre.

  • The Lowland Clearances has been running at the Camden People’s Theatre daily at weekends for the last two weeks and does so again this weekend; indeed, the Sunday performance is sold out already, so it’s Saturday or bust, hoping for repeats down the line. This is explicitly playable theatre, happy to describe itself as live role-playing, safe in the knowledge that the intended audience knows that live role-playing doesn’t necessarily imply rubber weapons in the woods, as fun as that is. It’s a game about city-building and use of space and this review makes it sound spectacular. Kudos to Hobo Theatre for putting it on and to Camden People’s Theatre for hosting it; more, please!
  • Further down the line, A Door In A Wall Have announced an attractively-priced preview for their next public event. This one is set indoors, rather than being a trail around town as they have used in the past. This preview has no marking of answers and declaration of a winner, which hints that you will effectively be invited to decide whether your interpretation and understanding of the story is sufficient for you as a metric for success. It’s not yet clear whether this non-scoring system is a one-off for the preview or the plan for the final version of this piece.
  • Further still, the Sedos theatre company are putting on Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On for two weeks in mid-April, billing itself as an “immersive adventure through Shakespeare’s final play“. In this, “The Docklands Shakespeare Society has invited respected Shakespeare historian Dr. Bianca Corbin to speak at an evening of recitation, interpretive dance and song ((…)) Four hundred years after William Shakespeare’s death, his final play, The Tempest, and the Bard himself both come to life on a lost and forgotten island… only, not quite in the way he remembers writing it… ((…)) Sedos’ first immersive theatre production takes 15,000 sq ft of a building in London’s Docklands and brings the world of The Tempest to life in a celebration of Shakespeare’s life and works. Audiences will be able to explore the island unguided, hear its sweet and sinister noises, sit in Prospero’s armchair, drink with Stephano and Trinculo and follow the spirits of the island as they torment and entertain the island’s mysterious inhabitants.” Sounds like this may pack a punch. *blows dog-whistle*

What else is cool right now? This little lot:

  • A Kickstarter campaign that has recently funded but still has a week left to go is Puzzle Your Kids! promoted by Eric Berlin, who has a long and storied track record. Subscribe and receive weekly word puzzles for kids aged nine and up! Might be a little US culture-specific, but that’s the worst thing that’s likely to be said about it. If the campaign reaches a stretch goal, everyone will get weekly logic puzzles as well, and there are occasional kid-friendly puzzle hunts (six to ten thematic puzzles plus a meta-puzzle) planned as well.
  • This site wasn’t aware that there was such a thing as a preview site for crowdfunding projects, but apparently there is and a crowdfunding project called Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment is coming soon. (Very soon, depending on time zones and how quickly Kickstarter move.) US$45 plus potentially considerable shipping and you’ll get a box of puzzles sent to you for you to solve with your friends in a self-assessed hour time limit. The makers have anticipated replay concerns and are heading them off at the pass with plans for a refill pack so that multiple teams might each be able to enjoy the same single box. As Liz Cable pointed out, this is something of a renaissance of play-by-mail gaming. Back in The Day, if you wanted to play a game designed to be played by far more people than you could fit around a table, you had to play games postally; it was a little like a MMORPG with a latency measured in days rather than tens of milliseconds and bandwidth measured in… well, in elastic bands. These days games are playing to their strengths by sending through serious physical artefacts that cannot be transmitted electronically. Looks exciting, anyhow. Many thanks to Ken for pointing this out.
  • World of Escapes is another UK exit game directory with the distinguishing feature that you can provide user ratings, not for sites as a whole but for individual rooms at each site. It also looks rather smart. Many thanks to Ken for pointing this out.
  • It would be an exaggeration to suggest that this site has wish-grumbled this into existence, but an entertaining exaggeration. The Logic Escapes Me now has a beta version of a reviews aggregator for London escape games – and, if you’ve played more than a handful of them, you can have your ratings included in the aggregation as well. This is a very exciting development and a suggestion of what the future might look like – perhaps a more critical TripAdvisor where you can have reason to take the reviews without a large pinch of salt. Many thanks to Ken for working this out.
  • Intervirals recently pointed to Somewhere Secret in Fort Collins, Colorado; this pay-what-you-want exit game (cool for the pricing alone!) sees people try to open a treasure chest. Inside the chest is a map; winning teams get to take a copy away and are then invited to follow it to obtain a token hidden somewhere in Colorado that might be exchanged for a real prize. This doesn’t need monetary value; by the height of adventure alone, this is beautifully cool already.

Surely something there to tickle your toes!

Dates for your diary

weekly calendarThis site has got somewhat slack with updating its events calendar to the point where even linking to it in this article would feel wrong. Nevertheless, there are a few things worth looking ahead to already.

  • The first leg of this year’s WPF Puzzle Grand Prix is in progress already, starting about half a day ago. You have until Monday evening, UK time, to identify a clear block of 90 minutes and earn as many points as possible by solving pencil-and-paper puzzles set by a team from India in the first leg of a metaphorical race around the puzzling world. Some of you may know that the puzzles are always very fine and the contest is reliably great fun; this year’s competition has an added twist to make it more accessible and help more people find their level of fun. More about that very soon, hopefully while the first leg is still in progress.
     
  • The Coney troupe of interactive theatre makers are holding a Scratch and Salon session at the Camden People’s Theatre from midday on Sunday. The “Scratch and Salon is an open event making play on the line between public space and corporate space, and exploring the ideas around the commons“. At midday, “A map will be unfurled of scratch adventures and other playful experiences to be discovered in the neighbourhood of CPT. You’ll need a mobile phone with credit to send text messages in order to play. From 3pm – We’ll reconvene in the Theatre and host a salon – first curated with provocations from speakers segueing into an open space discussion – on what it means to make play in this space, and the politics of public space and the commons“. Not immediately puzzly, but very likely to be relevant somehow; their shows always inspire interesting thoughts.
     
  • February 27th and 28th see the UK Open Puzzle and Sudoku Tournaments taking place at the Selsdon Park Hotel in Croydon; since the World Championships were held here a couple of years ago, this has surely become the spiritual home of competition puzzles in this country. The company is always excellent and it’s as close to the World Championship experience as you’re going to get.
     
  • Closer to the usual core of this site, Can You Escape? of Edinburgh are hosting a Disabled Access Day on Saturday 12th March. “Join us on Disabled Access Day between 10.30 and 12.00 to take a look around Operation Odyssey our space themed mission, giving you a chance to check if the room is suitable and have a go at some puzzles (not the ones in the room – that would be cheating!) ((…)) People taking part in Disabled Access Day can also get 30% off bookings on the day or bookings made on the day.” Clearly Can You Escape? takes accessibility seriously; see the entry in the FAQ, but also the site’s inclusion in Euan’s Guide for disabled access reviews. While it’s far from the only site to do so, Exit Games UK is not aware of anything quite like this Disabled Access Day before and this would appear to be an instant example of best practice, well worth consideration by sites up and down the country. If you want to see whether the site is right for you, e-mail Can You Escape? first because only a limited number of spaces are available.
     
  • April is set to be busy, busy, busy, though in a very good way. From 1st to 3rd April, Now Play This returns to the New Wing of Somerset House in London. It’s not clear what will be on the line-up this year as the open call is in progress; “This year we’re particularly keen on things with interesting controllers, games which deal with utopias, play in a city context, and work which encourages player creativity – but games outside these themes are also welcome.” The event is part of the larger London Games Festival, “running from 1 to 10 April 2016, the festival includes 15 official events across 10 different locations” – perhaps something exit game-related might be appropriate for the Festival Fringe?
     
  • The Canadian Caper will be running on April 9th at the Arts & Letters Club in Toronto. “A one-day only escape experience for up to 15 teams of six ((though it’s not immediately clear whether it’s 15 teams per show or 15 teams total over the three shows.)) This is very much an escape game. There will be puzzles to solve. Solving puzzles will allow you to progress through the space into new rooms where you will find new challenges and new puzzles. Ultimately your goal is to physically escape the space. Unlike a traditional escape game though there will also be actors that teams will need to interact with to gain information.” The first episode in the series was put on by a number of bloggers and their very talented friends; us UK types can just dream and be jealous, for it sounds hugely cool and it is delightful that the first episode is not just a one-off.
     
  • We don’t have it so bad in the UK, though; Saturday 16th April sees the Springtime Hunt in Shrewsbury organised by the Armchair Treasure Hunt Club. “Everyone is welcome to come along and compete, whether you are a member of the club or whether you just enjoy competing in treasure hunts. Gather for the hunt at 10am for an 11am start, and it’ll probably be about tea time when the treasure is unearthed. The £25 entry fee includes lunch as well as the hunt and its prizes. Go to the club’s website for more details of how to book your place.
     
  • Never enough, never enough; Up The Game happens two days later. “On the 18th of April Amsterdam will host the first international Escape Room & Real Life Gaming Conference.” Their speaker list is extremely exciting with speakers from several countries. While the early bird tickets have sold out, you can still buy Advance tickets at €100 each, plus a small booking fee, plus the Dutch version of VAT, which by the way has the charming acronym of BTW.
     
  • Last year, this site proposed an industry meeting at the forthcoming live The Crystal Maze attraction; while all 32 tickets have been sold (and there are already names at the top of the waiting list) it’s going to take place on Tuesday 26th April. Maybe something else interesting might be happening around that time too, you never know
     
  • And that’s not even referring to DASH 8, set to take place in cities around the world on Saturday 30th April!

What other events is this site missing?

Puzzle adventures right now

UK map by Randall Munroe, xkcd.com, Creative Commons licence: http://xkcd.com/license.html

Click for larger version

The xkcd comic is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License; let’s hope that the author’s blog, from where the map comes, is too.

  • Ken pointed to “A puzzle for the UK” earlier today, a two-stage hunt released by Randall Munroe of xkcd comic fame to celebrate the launch of his new book, Thing Explainer. The first stage appears to be a traditional armchair treasure hunt, with hints to locations in five UK cities (London, Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol and Edinburgh); visiting the locations, or sending a location’s details by e-mail to the publisher, reveals the second stage of the hunt, about which less is known. Spoilers have been posted to the first stage locations, but people appear to be keeping the second part secret as requested.
     
    Prizes will include signed copies of Thing Explainer and limited-edition posters and mobiles. There will also be one very special first prize.” The book is written using only a set of ten hundred frequently-used English language words, notably excluding “thousand”, and some of the text of the hunt is as well. Go quickly, for the results are set to be published in about a week and a half.
     
  • Ken also pointed to Incredible Midtown: The Game, a live action walking tour hunt taking place through the “Midtown” (Bloomsbury, Holborn and St Giles) section of London.
     
    To get to the end, you must unravel a series of fiendish clues, solve perplexing puzzles and immerse yourself in three centuries of London history. Roam amid fine Georgian buildings, Jagger and Bowie’s favourite haunts and the sly pickpockets of the St Giles rookery. Teams of friends and strangers must collaborate with you to uncover the drama and fascinating past of this ever-intriguing corner of the capital. ((…)) Characters from Dickens novels will wander around town as you find the clues and try to solve the mystery of Midtown. ((…)) The 90 minute game will run for five weeks from November 9 to December 11. Monday to Friday only. Tickets are £12 per person and must be booked in advance.
     
    As well as being a live hunt and thus interesting, there is a more direct exit game connection here: Escape in Time, the company behind the very popular Secret Studio London, refer to it as their next adventure. An excellent heritage!
     
  • An exciting event taking place north of San Francisco is The Headlands Gamble, as discussed on the Puzzle Hunters community on Google+ and the Puzzle Hunters group on Facebook. The game advertises itself as “an extraordinary weekend trip for two with a thrilling storyline woven through it. You and a partner will be the detectives in an immersive mystery story set amidst some of the most beautiful locations in the North Bay. You’ll drive from location to location in a custom car, meeting characters, unearthing clues and following leads while experiencing all that Marin County has to offer.” It’s not cheap at US$1,950 for two players, but that covers the cost of “a beautiful rental car; one bedroom at a homey hotel by the seaside; all your meals, each at a highlight local venue; an itinerary of out-of-the way sights, planned for you; a two-day long theatrical experience just for you“.
     
    Reports suggest it’s more of a detective experience than a puzzle experience, but if you want a troupe of actors to put on a two-day-long interactive show just for an audience of two, this might be the state of the art. People have hinted at the famous Punchdrunk immersive theatre company putting on travel experiences, but there is not yet evidence of this being widely available; The Headlands Gamble is a game that the well-heeled don’t have to wait to play.

Coming soon to London: a door in a wall presents “An Appetite for Murder”

a door in a wall: An Appetite for MurderEvery time London interactive theatre company a door in a wall announce a major new work, this site gets excited. Spring and Autumn of the past few years have seen hit after hit, and this site has previewed The Diplomatic Corpse, A Stab In The Dark and The Life and Death of Paul Marrane. That time of year is coming up once more, and with it bringing An Appetite for Murder.

In a professional kitchen, execution is everything. A high pressure environment means that tempers run as hot as ovens and resentments can boil over all too easily. Celebrated chef Amelia Love is London’s newest gourmet sensation, but when her body is found locked in the restaurant’s freezer one morning, a menu of suspects isn’t hard to compile.

Was it her talented apprentice, a spiteful critic, or a greedy partner who committed this chilling crime? Gather a table of hungry detectives and prepare to digest the evidence hidden around the streets of the City as you explore in pursuit of a culinary killer.

The company have found a format that works very well for them. The event is offered on weekday evenings through October (except Mondays and a couple of Wednesdays), plus weekends having both afternoon and evening performances. Not many tickets left on Saturdays already, though. The games are scheduled to run four and a half hours or so, probably with half-hour briefing and debriefing around three and a half hours of promenade-style puzzling. This site really loved the review of the last event at The Logic Escapes Me, which suggests precisely what sort of things might be involved: varied puzzles, highly immersive environments and plenty of characters to interactive with.

With a little horror, this site gets the impression that a door in the wall may have independently reinvented the genre of the puzzle adventure, and come closer to the platonic ideal of the puzzle hunt, more effectively than the puzzle hunts that amateurs have put on in this country already. That’s just not fair – but players are lucky to have such amazing opportunities to play. Book your tickets soon before the remaining dates sell out!

Starting the fans

A pentakis dodecahedronThat’s not just any old picture of a pentakis dodecahedron inside two concentric circles; it’s a picture with a meaning. It’s a picture that arises from a rumour that, as they say, “escalated quickly”, over about the course of a 250-mile train journey and a dinner. Most of the information comes from work performed by Bother’s Bar‘s proprietor and his friends on Twitter, though grateful thanks to Gareth for also posting a link.

People have found a very interesting-looking web site at www.the-crystal-maze.com suggesting a “live immersive experience”; the @CrystalMazeHQ Twitter account, which started following this site recently, made its first Tweet today and has already attracted considerable interest.

Not much more is known about it yet. An “invitation to invest” document has been found online, with the name Little Lion Entertainment at the top. It’s not clear whether the people involved would prefer the link to this document to be made public, or whether the figures in it are at all current. It does suggest that the people involved have very considerable pedigree, notably on Heist in London last year and Secret Cinema, and also that the people from the show that you would hope to be involved may well be getting involved. There has been no indication of timescale; a very early indication of price might be more like that of Secret Cinema, Punchdrunk or a full-price West End seat (though not a premium seat!) rather than that of an exit game – even the newer, higher-end generation that are starting to come out.

Be very sure that this site will be paying close attention. If you can’t wait to get your hands on a crystal, you can already get your own 3D printed 60-sided die, about an inch and a half high; depending on the material, the cost varies from £15.35 to £145.71.

Coming soon to London: a door in a wall present “The Life and Death of Paul Marrane”

"The Life and Death of Paul Marrane"This site has previously discussed the work of London interactive theatre company a door in a wall, admiringly previewing their Spring 2014 The Diplomatic Corpse and their Autumn 2014 A Stab In The Dark. Happily, recently the company announced their next big public piece: The Life and Death of Paul Marrane.

The flurry of activity that followed the sudden demise of a perfect stranger was unexpected. There seemed no suggestion of foul play and he had no apparent close friends or family. Even his colleagues were not entirely certain what he did. But from the moment he collapsed on the floor of the bank, Professor Paul Marrane attracted the attention of some powerful figures. Whispered rumours hint at a highly unusual life. Now representatives of four influential organisations are descending upon the area of Poplar in east London, eager to be present at the reading of his will.

Players in teams of three-to-six (by strong recommendation) are required to choose one of these four factions at the start of the game. Will your faction successfully claim Marrane’s estate and use his secrets to your advantage? Each team will need a video-capable smartphone to hand; the story leads teams out into the nearby streets in search of clues and characters. The work of a door in a wall relies on following clues, finding locations, solving puzzles and interacting with characters; they are famed for their pun-heavy sense of humour. This piece aims to have a heavier emphasis on exploration and story than their previous murder mysteries, though there’s still a mystery to piece together and connections to make as you explore the East End.

Maya Angelou said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel“. Perhaps the role of puzzles in puzzle adventures is slightly overrated, and it’ll be the situations, story, moods and sensations that an adventure generates which you remember, rather than the puzzles themselves. You can play at 6:30pm on most nights in May (not Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Monday 11th/18th) and also at 1:30pm at weekends as well. Tickets are £30/player, but you get a lot for your money, with games expected to last about four hours. The company has an excellent track record of generating memorable, popular and acccessible adventures; bookings opened recently and almost a thousand tickets were sold on the first day.

Sounds very likely to be another hit!

Use your brains or lose your BRAIAIAIAIAIAINS

"Trapped in a room with a zombie"To say it’s an exciting time at the moment for sites preparing to launch, and launching, would be an understatement; it’s perhaps closer to overwhelming. As exit games spread their jaws up and down the land, “we’re gonna need a bigger map”.

Tip of the hat to an unusual source, Londonist, but a new exit game hosting its first public game this Friday, 12th December, is the London location of Room Escape Adventures, who have been running their Trapped in a Room with a Zombie game at 16 locations in London and a 17th in Canada. A location in Madrid is promised soon as well. After North America and Europe, the undead are taking over the world!

There are two particularly distinctive features to this game:

1. It’s played by teams of up to twelve. This is ideal if you have a big group of friends and all want to play together, rather than competing amongst yourselves, or if you want to solve alongside not just your friends but also people you might not previously have known.

2. This room just might be coated with Ronseal because it does exactly what it says on the tin in its name; you are indeed trapped, you are indeed in a room, and there is indeed one (1) zombie in there with you. Specifically, said undead starts on the end of a short chain, shambling and crawling about. Every five minutes, further links of the chain (and, perhaps, some hounds) are released and the zombie’s shamble radius increases. Get caught by the zombie and you’re… not out of the game, but rooted to the spot, though still capable of contributing to the effort.

One of this site’s friends played the location in Toronto and found it an enjoyable change from other exit games out there. There are plenty of reviews of the other locations as well, though some of them (to which there will be no links) are prone to being ever so slightly spoiler-y. There are certainly no spoilers in this interview with the creator.

Tickets are available on a slightly unusual schedule: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings, and Saturday and Sunday daytimes. So far they have been released for a month ahead, and the show “runs the entire year of 2015”. The Chicago location has had its game replaced with Trapped in a Room with a Zombie II: Still Hungry, so there is more than one string to the genre’s bow. Tickets are £28/player, plus fees, which is towards the high end of the spectrum – but perhaps the going rate for a tried and tested international hit!

Some more games coming up in London

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After yesterday’s post about the blurring of the line between exit games and interactive theatre, here are details of some more games and events that are pretty identifiably on the interactive theatre side of the line. They look to have enough to them to be likely to be of interest to readers – at least, to readers in London.

iAm is a show organised by the Bush theatre but performed daily at the Kensal House community rooms until Saturday 25th October. Tuesday and Wednesday have 1:30pm matinee shows, Thursday to Saturday 7:30pm shows and Sunday and Monday are days off.

Welcome to an intimate focus group – only a select few have been allowed in. The product is cutting edge: it could be the next big thing. But as the guinea pigs sign up eagerly to secrecy, someone throws a spanner in the works. The company’s latest recruit has ethical concerns. Surely the iAms have certain rights…

Technology is about to take on a life of its own.

iAm is a fast-paced, interactive show about our attachment to technology. It gives audiences the chance to experiment and compete. Mixing immersive theatre, interactive games and a futuristic scenario, the play addresses big subjects like morality and community in a digital age.

The SPID theatre company‘s web site describes the show by saying “iAm explores our attachment to technology by giving audiences the chance to experiment and compete. Mixing immersive theatre, interactive games and a futuristic scenario, the play addresses big subjects like morality and community in a digital age.” That’s easily playable enough for this site.

This site normally skews away from running games – obstacle races are right out – but there are a couple of games of Citydash coming up, which has a bit of thought and brain to it.

Run for checkpoints, replan on the fly as the map changes, and duck for cover as our patrolling guards close in. Or take it more strategically, rack your brains to solve our cryptic clues, and keep your eyes open for bonus points.

However you play, you can watch the live scoreboard for updates and battle it out with nearby teams. With a huge range of strategies, approaches, and levels, you can take this as casually or competitively as you want.

This site likes cryptic clues, this site likes strategy and this site likes that there is a charity benefit event, in aid of the Street Child charity, in Central London on the afternoon of Saturday 15th November. Before then, there’s a Hallowe’en version at 7pm on Friday 31st October, wherein all the guards are replaced by things that go bump in the night. Bear in mind that the latter game is taking place after dark in Shoreditch, so there’ll be a lot of ’em about.

If these are all a little too near-topic for you, Puzzle Hunt Calendar points to a much more orthodox treasure hunt happening from 2pm to 5pm this Saturday, 11th October, organised by Treasure Hunts in London. This weekend’s game takes place at the Tate Britain art gallery, though is not organised by them. “This one involves searching for animals. There is a mixture of straight and cryptic clues to solve as you take your time exploring the gallery. It’s not a race, so you have time to look at the paintings and possibly stop for a coffee.” £10 per player, teams of up to five, and a debriefing at a pub afterwards.

Speaking of pubs, next week is Puzzled Pint week as well!