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!

Puzzle competitions coming up

weekly calendarTwo competitions coming up this weekend, there’s a gap on the weekend of the 18th-19th (which suits me down to the ground, as I’m actually playing The Crystal Maze on the 18th) and two more on the weekend of the 25th-26th.

The weekend of the 10th-13th sees the sixth (“Serbian”) round of the World Puzzle Federation’s Puzzle Grand Prix and the instruction booklet is already available. Usual drill: 90 minutes, free to play, score as many points as you can by solving puzzles, start no earlier than midday European time on Friday 10th and finish by midnight European at the end of Monday 13th. Take a look at the types of puzzles in advance; I’d say these look pretty tough, but every round is delicately balanced on the tough-to-accessible spectrum and it’s just that this round has puzzles that don’t play to my strengths.

This weekend also sees the online UK Sudoku Championship – you can click through there for the link to the instruction booklet – and that runs in a somewhat similar fashion. Two hour time limit, free to play, score as many points as you can by solving sudoku and sudoku variants, start no earlier than midday UK time on Friday 10th and finish by 11:55pm UK time at the end of Monday 13th.

On the weekend of the 25th-26th, it’s the other way around: another round of the Sudoku GP and also the UK Puzzle Championship. The UKPC is expected to be 2½ hours long. It’s been my favourite puzzle championship of the year for a few years now and it deliberately contains more identifiably accessible material than just about all of the rest of the contests. If you’re going to enter only one contest, I’d recommend the UKPC above the rest. Participation is free and open worldwide. The top two UK participants from each of the UK championships qualify for the UK team for the World Sudoku Championships or World Puzzle Championships, as appropriate.

I may have taken a pot shot at sports’ governing bodies at large in my previous entry, whether physical or mind, but many thanks to all those who have created these contests, tested these contests, or created and maintained the infrastructure to make them available to the public at large.

Certificates of Excellence

This owl has been drinkingHurrah! Exit Games UK has been updated and it’s not by me, and it’s in safe hands, and I’m very little if anything to do with it any more, and that feels tremendous. Nevertheless, here’s a dry old post about exit games. No reason, just felt like it.

That funny old TripAdvisor owl has been out awarding Certificates of Excellence for 2016. As far as I can tell, they have been awarded to UK sites including, in alphabetical order:

  • Agent November, London
  • BathEscape, Bath
  • Breakout Games, Aberdeen
  • Breakout Liverpool, Liverpool
  • Breakout Manchester, Manchester
  • Can You Escape, Edinburgh
  • Clue Finders, Liverpool
  • Clue HQ, Blackpool
  • Clue HQ, Warrington
  • clueQuest, London
  • Crack The Code, Sheffield
  • Cyantist, Bournemouth
  • Dr. Knox’s Enigma, Edinburgh
  • ESCAP3D, Belfast
  • Escape Hour, Edinburgh
  • Escape Land, London
  • Escape Live, Birmingham
  • Escape Quest, Macclesfield
  • Escape Rooms, London
  • Escape, Edinburgh
  • Escape, Glasgow
  • Escape, Newcastle
  • Ex(c)iting Game, Oxford
  • Exit Newcastle, Newcastle
  • Exit Strategy, Liverpool
  • GR8escape York, York
  • HintHunt, London
  • Live Escape Rooms, Plymouth
  • Locked In Games, Leeds
  • Lockin Real Escape, Manchester
  • Lock’d, London
  • Logiclock, Nottingham
  • Lost & Escape, Newcastle
  • Mystery Cube, London
  • Puzzlair, Bristol
  • Salisbury Escape Rooms, Salisbury
  • The Escape Room, Manchester
  • The Gr8 Escape, Belfast
  • The Great Escape Game, Sheffield
  • The Live Escape, Huddersfield
  • Tick Tock Unlock, Leeds
  • Tick Tock Unlock, Liverpool

For the record, and for the benefit of those travelling from afar, that’s 7 in London, 4 in each of Liverpool and Edinburgh, 3 in each of Manchester and Newcastle and 2 in each of Leeds, Sheffield and Belfast. I don’t swear to that list being exhaustive (E&OE, E-I-E-I-O) but I think I like my methodology.

Some investigation points to a page suggesting that “The Certificate of Excellence accounts for the quality, quantity and recency of reviews submitted by travellers on TripAdvisor over a 12-month period. To qualify, a business must maintain an overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five, have a minimum number of reviews and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months.” TripAdvisor’s own rankings don’t even seem to marry up exactly with the certificates: it ranks some sites that have missed out more highly than other sites that have got them, and there are some obvious omissions that would surely be considered controversial. (It’s hard to believe they can have missed out on at least one of those criteria.) But there we are, and some degree of quasi-official certification of excellence may be more useful than no degree of quasi-official certification of excellence. Particularly if your site ended up winning one.

A little mid-April news

Rolled-up newspaperVery little, but more than none.

After yesterday’s post and a few nudges, the remaining tickets for the exit game unconference in London in a week and a half’s time have all gone. A waiting list has been opened and that’s already filling up quickly as well. If you have a ticket and end up not being able to attend, please cancel so that it’s possible to invite someone on the waiting list who really can make it. Thank you!

Further down the line, the eighth nearly-annual edition of Gamecamp on Saturday May 21st in London has started selling tickets. This too has an unconference, themed around games of all sorts and in all media, but “As well as talks and workshops, GameCamp has a lot else going on. The ‘Run What You Brung’ playtest/demo area is open for anyone with a prototype game to show off. There will be live games of all sorts kicking off around the venue throughout the day, and a library of board-games for anyone to use. Plus lots more to be announced before the event. Keep checking the website!

If you’re disappointed about not getting tickets to the exit game unconference this month then, honestly, this is likely to be better; on the other hand, (a) they’re bigger, (b) they’ve been doing this rather longer and (c) they aren’t specifically about exit games. (That said, Adrian Hon gave a talk about exit games at GameCamp two years ago, back in the days when there were only a double handful of them around.) Take a look at the Gamecamp site for details of the crazy stunts they’ve been able to pull in the past. They’re very good at this. Tickets are limited, but two more batches will go on sale at a higher price in coming weeks.

Lastly, Mark at Really Fun has started a podcast about exit games called Escape From Reality; the first episode was posted a few hours back. Guest starring Ken from The Logic Escapes Me, they provide a highly enjoyable half-hour-plus of listening. Hurrah!

Good news for March 2016

"Good News for a change!" - adapted from Rick Warden, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 licence

Here are a selection of stories that will hopefully put a smile on your face. Just think about the people involved and the smiles that must have been on their faces!

  • First to Puzzlair of Bristol, who are celebrating John’s proposal to Claire. May all their escapes be great ones!
  • It seems almost disrespectful to focus on more than a single couple’s big day, but more and more sites are hosting these happy occasions, and also sharing the good news is Escape of Glasgow. This time it was Annie who proposed, and thanked Nick and Kim at Escape on Twitter for their help. The Escape team went on to post further details of the happy event.
  • Not a proposal, but something that might happen somewhere down the line for some happy couples. To say more would be to spoil the surprise, so let The Great Escape Game of Sheffield tell the story. Perhaps there will be a nearer miss than two days being talked about by an exit game before long. (Lovely name, too!)
  • So this story is almost telling a story of the progression of a relationship. One happy step further down the line for some relationships is a fifth birthday party; for one here, we have to go to Locked In Edinburgh. The event they describe sounds wonderful here, whether celebrating a fifth birthday or a fifty-fifty birthday.
  • Perhaps your five-year-old will grow up and start their own business. Perhaps their business will win an award, as in this happy story as Can You Escape? of Edinburgh celebrate their victory in the Best-Performing Business (1-10) category at the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce awards. Congratulations and here’s to many more!

New rooms from the newsroom

The NewsroomSeveral sites have refreshed their line-ups recently; others have just plan expanded. Here are details of the new rooms at existing sites that Exit Games UK has found recently. If your new room is missing, please let Exit Games UK know and the list shall grow longer.

  • Let’s go very roughly north to south, so that this way the list can start with a site with two new rooms. Breakout Games Aberdeen of the Granite City have overhauled their offering to introduce a pair of new treats for 2016. The Amazon has opened with a bang to become the most challenging game on site and is not recommended for beginners. “Plunged into the depths of the Amazon your team are charged with finding a priceless ancient artifact in an escape room filled with twists, turns and surprises. Will you be lost in the jungle for all eternity?” The two Lock and Key rooms have been replaced with two Deadlock rooms, enabling teams to race against each other: “DEADLOCK is the perfect escape game to introduce new groups to escape games in a race against the clock! With two identical escape rooms of DEADLOCK teams of 12 can race to escape completing exactly the same puzzles. With riddles, codes to crack and some twists and turns along this way this new puzzle is fantastic fun with a three star difficulty rating!” The site is also installing two identical copies of Black and White in March, which will make it one of the biggest sites in the land.
     
  • Down to Newcastle where Lost and Escape were feeling excited on Facebook about their new room, The Dungeon. Follow that link for the pictures; the story for the room suggests that “You accidentally went into an ancient house. The door of the house is a time machine, which brought you back to the 1900s. You found strange symbols everywhere. The only way to go back is to get the key in 60 minutes. The person who runs out of time will be locked in the past. Can you travel back successfully?
     
  • Next to Manchester where Breakout Manchester have added their ninth room, this one in their High Street offshoot. In Most Wanted, Ray Cokes chats with production and viewers while introducing… oh, not that Most Wanted. “It’s another race to escape although this time the bigger reward you collect, the higher up on the leaderboard you will go! ((…)) Think of yourselves as Bounty Hunters of the Wild West breaking in to a Saloon in search of loot! Make sure you’re out by the time the Sheriff returns, even if it means leaving some of your riches behind, or you’ll end up spending the night in a cell as Breakout Manchester’s Most Wanted!” There have been rooms which award scores in the past; sometimes scores can be analogues for solving time, as the longer you spend cracking the pre-scoring puzzles, the less time you have to work on the additional challenges which determine your score. Here, it’s clear; “Time is important to your game… but the reward means more to your team!
     
  • At the south end of Greater Manchester, Code to Exit of Altrincham have now opened their second room full-time. In The Test, which they describe on Facebook as being without keys, padlocks or furniture, “An alien life force has been experimenting with the human DNA. They tempered with few of us and mixed their genes with ours. You are being abducted to complete the tests and find out if it was successful. Are you intelligent enough to represent our species? If you pass you will be set free.” The site have also suggested that their third game is only two or three months away and will feature quite an unusual theme that this site is looking forward to. Code to Exit now offer discounts to people booking off-peak, to students and to birthday parties; they also offer team-building days during office hours as well.
     
  • Bristol is apparently further north than Gravesend by scant seconds of latitude, so Puzzlair have announced that they are taking bookings for their fifth room, The Poltergeist Room, which opens next week in their Puzzlair 2 location. “A widow lived in this room with her daughter, and suddenly they disappeared. Every once in a while people seen the silhouette of a woman walking around in the rooms. The players have to find out the reason behind the disappearance and also produce a successful ghost exorcism in order to escape the room in 60 minutes.
     
  • The Panic Room of Gravesend are running their current room for another week and a half, then will be taking a few days off to change it over to The Witch House, running in March and April. “Our next mystery begins with a student who rents a room inside an old house with a long and dark history. His dreams are haunted by those of a Witch from the town’s legend. During the witch trials of 1692 she disappeared never to be seen again. It’s 11pm and your team has been sent to help the poor student uncover the mystery that lies within the room. What happened to the witch? Can you break the curse before the clock strikes midnight?” Eek!
     
  • Salisbury Escape Rooms write to say “Since initially opening at Easter 2015 with the Magna Carta challenge, in October 2015 we changed the theme to Murder in the Museum. Players are met and briefed by a detective then led to the reception of the Salisbury Smithsonian Museum. A body has been found and a suspect is in custody. Police have one hour left to either charge him or release him. The team are required to find the missing evidence and get out within the hour. The new game, again designed, built and run by retired detectives is proving to be very popular. Tripadvisor reviews have been excellent and several teams who have completed many escape rooms have said that this is the best they have done!
     
  • Lastly to Exeter where Mission Escape have added a third room, with more promised to launch this year. This one is deliberately designed to cater for teams of no more than four players. In the Pharaoh’s Anger room, you must “Make your way through the tomb of the Kings… be careful not to disturb the dead. Align the Celestial bodies to release you from the Pharaoh’s wrath or be entombed forever“. Nobody wants that!

Early February 2016 news round-up

News round-upTime for an assortment of links and news stories.

  • Congratulations to The Gr8 Escape of Belfast for announcing their recent award from Acquisition International, earning the Best Creative Corporate Activities Company title for Belfast. Escape Live of Birmingham also announced that they are a finalist in the Midlands Business Awards; looks like it’s in the Service Provider of the Year (up to £1m) section. Best of luck for the 26th!
  • That’s not all the Escape Live news, though. Tomorrow night, i.e. the evening of Friday 12th February, sees them host “((…)) a date night with a quirky twist ((…)) hoping to strike the city’s singletons with cupid’s arrow by hosting a mass double date at the venue – inviting them not just on a search for the puzzles’ answers, but for love too. The venue is hoping to attract couples of single friends on Friday, February 12, for a date night which will include meeting other single couples of friends as they work together to escape each room. Manager Jordan Ladley said: ‘Valentine’s Day for couples is one of the most exciting and fun days of the year, but what about those who don’t have someone to share it with? ((…)) Throughout the evening we’re inviting up to eight couples of friends to join us for a mass blind double date as we enter them into each room on a quest to crack the codes and escape. But who knows what – or who – else you might find while on the frantic search for answers!’” Very cute gimmick; Exit Games UK hopes it works out well for them.
  • Breakout Games of Aberdeen and Inverness have suggested that they will be featured in a TV show about a collaborative hiring process. That sounds dry, but the practice is much more fun than the theory. Candidates try out for a regional manager position at hipster craft brewer BrewDog, but are unaware that it’s their potential subordinates – rather than their potential bosses – who’ll be assessing whether they’re a good fit for the company. Will the exit game experience show the candidates at their interview-prepared best or what they’re really like when the pressure’s on? Time will tell!
  • Also in Scotland, Exit Plan Edinburgh got in touch and suggested that they’re offering a 25% discount this month. A little unusually, the site is not too strict about applying their nominal sixty-minute time limit, and have happily posted pictures of teams who have extracted the maximum value from their game by taking several tens of minutes more than that to get out with the Tesla Cube.
  • Lastly, to the cool links. Liz Cable of Time Games, organiser of the recent unconference in Leeds, is leading a workshop on Sunday 6th March at the Courthouse Words festival in Otley on How to create a puzzle room in a box. Given the quick but fun boxes of tricks in play at the unconference, this should be a treat.
  • The Escape Rooms Master directory site are asking site owners to fill in this five-minute questionnaire. The results of the survey should be extremely interesting – and the more responses, the more representative the survey.
  • A review site based on the Eastern Seaboard of the US, Escape Clues, has made a well-regarded post simply entitled Why Some Escape Rooms Rock! – and Others Suck! Indeed so; neat comparisons and contrasts between desirable and undesirable properties in various categories.

Exit games in the media

Newspaper graphicHere’s a collection of stories of exit games making their impression on the public.

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!

News round-up for mid-January 2016

News round-upThis site is off to the unconference called The Great Escape UK today, so here are some news stories that have been queued up for a little while. There may be live coverage on Twitter with #EscGamesUK, but no guarantees.

  • Congratulations to Kelly and Alyson who became engaged to each other before Christmas at Escape Rooms Scotland! A report on Facebook suggests that Kelly had no idea, making the surprise proposal even sweeter. The best of health and happiness all round!
  • Clue HQ have already revealed that their next branch to open will be in Birmingham; even before launch, the Birmingham Post have a big piece on the forthcoming site. The suggestion that it might hold 36 guests gives a clear hint as to the ambition behind the location, suggesting it’s clearly one to watch.
  • Puzzlair of Bristol are also in the news as the Bristol Post visited the attraction and had “a great night out“. The reporter also noted that they had played Locked In A Room a few weeks earlier, so this site now has a favourite Bristol local newspaper. Some day the national press will start reviewing rooms and games…
  • Escape Asylum of Leicester are planning to launch in March but are already being covered in a piece in the Leicester Mercury that gives good detail about the founders’ backgrounds and starting-points and – along with the video – will give you a clear idea whether it’s the game for you. The site is set to launch whether or not its crowdfunding campaign reaches its goal; East Midlanders who like darker games should get in early and perhaps quickly pick up a discount.
  • Thanks to Ken for that one and for this: speaking of Kickstarter, there’s a campaign for a site in Preston called Timed Trap. While the campaign hasn’t got off to the best of starts, it’s far from unknown for an exit game to struggle with crowdfunding and then thrive in the fullness of time, so it’s definitely one to keep on the radar.
  • Further afield, the Brantford Expositor of Canada – and compare Expositor to Post and Mercury! – featured a piece on the BreakoutEDU Game Jam this weekend. Looks like an excellent time was had by all; it’s also exciting to read that there are more to come.
  • Even further afield still, Intervirals points to a panel on exit games at the PAX Australia convention in Melbourne. It takes a little listening, but fun to hear how they do it down under!