Crowdfunding round-up

Savings jar graphicThis site has long had a policy, among many others, of prioritising efforts not to play favourites. While the policy continues as ever, the biggest challenge to it yet has arisen; for the first time, it happens that people who I already knew and liked are starting their first UK exit game. Impartiality (as far as consciously possible, and making efforts to consider subconsious effects) remains critical – but, by way of full disclosure, there’s more of a reason for me to have a rooting interest in this one particular case.

This site has given a few mentions to Mink Ette, one of the team behind the Spark of Resistance game in Portland, near the Pacific coast of the US, and also mentioned Gareth Briggs of last year’s MOLE game and more. The two of them, and others, are teaming to start an exit game in Brixton, with an associated Adventure Society situating its headquarters in the site’s retail presence; the crowdfunding campaign has started like gangbusters.

It would be fair to say that the UK has not previously seen an exit game crowdfunding campaign with such a hot start, this side of a more inclusive decision of exit game that might permit comparison to Hyde or The Crystal Maze. It would also be fair to point out that other sites have reached their targets even after a less conspicuous beginning – and that other sites again that didn’t reach their targets at all have still come to fruition, flourished and made a great many people happy.

It’s worth asking what has made the difference in this case; at a guess, informed by other articles on successful crowdfunding such as this one by beloved band the Doubleclicks, getting your name out there and being a known quantity makes a big difference, and one way to do that is to work on many other people’s projects. It also helps that other reputable people have been willing to lend their credibility by volunteering on the project, on the crowdfunding rewards or simply by being vocal about it. The whole “having run the game before in another country” issue may also make it a somewhat more plausible proposition, too.

This is far from the only game in town, though. There’s another Kickstarter project for Code Rooms, a putative exit game in Cardiff looking to open in 2016. Kickstarter is not the only crowdfunding route; on Indiegogo, the campaign for Escape Rooms Cardiff is offering early bird tickets ahead of the launch, planned for December, at a very attractive rate. This site has also mentioned Mystery HQ Wigan, though the crowdfunding campaign seems no longer available.

More about all these games, as and when news becomes available!

Mid-September news round-up

News round-upToo many news items for a single post, so let’s leave news of new rooms and a new site until a second news post, hopefully within the next two or three days. Eyes down and let’s go go go…

  • Canadian exit game blogs Escape Room Addict, Escape Games Review and Escape Games Toronto have teamed up with a crew of their very talented friends to put on three performances of one-night theatrical live exit game Canadian Caper tonight. In the theatrical tradition, this site wishes them all broken legs and hopes to read more about the event’s glorious success soon.
  • Exit Games UK thoroughly recommends the talk given at VideoBrains by Mink Ette on exit games, one of the team behind Spark of Resistance in Portland (and any excuse to plug the masterclass that is their talk about its design principles is welcome). The end of the talk hints at Mink teaming with Gareth Briggs of last year’s MOLE game on a project to be announced later; enter the Oubliette on Twitter if you want to be among the first to learn more in time.
  • Escapism of Nuneaton have announced on Facebook that they’ll be running a one-off game at midnight on Hallowe’en, and are auctioning the spot for the team of eight to play it. This site gets the impression that Escapism might be marginally more… aggressive? than most, based on its disclaimer, and no holds would surely be barred if you give your informed consent to a Hallowe’en witching hour game. A few sites are ramping up for that time of the year, but it’s not clear if any of them will be able to do so quite so magically.
  • A very interesting-looking business undergoing the crowdfunding process is Legend Quests, which aims to put on theatrical fantasy adventure experiences for teams of thirty, or immersive costumed experiences for teams of ten. The person behind it has an unimpeachable record in fantasy photography and videography, as well as a popular fantasy podcast, and the project has absolutely the right people involved – from voiceover by Tom Baker down to design by experienced fantasy gamebook designers. There have been LARP-for-the-masses efforts before, often taking the tricky role-playing parts out. Rules-light, acting-and-emotion-heavy freeform role-playing is doing at least as well now in the UK as it ever has done, but that’s another matter. Consider contributing to the crowdfunding campaign if that’s your cup of tea.
  • Finally, and most on-topic, the Escape exit game chain (Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Dublin and licensees elsewhere) have announced that they have been shortlisted for the Scottish Business Awards in the Emerging Business of the Year category. Congratulations on the nomination; judging by the line-up of presenters at the award ceremony, it’s clearly a big deal!

Hold Fire

Illustrated London NewsThis site is delighted to see both QMSM and Escape Game Addicts get off to such strong starts. Both sites have written about good trips to Breakout Manchester; QMSM also wrote about won-one-lost-one trips to Clue HQ, where any entry in the W column is a hard-won feat, as well as a take on Toronto Room Escapes‘ mighty Themed Thursday strand, spreading like wildfire from blog to blog. Dear old Intervirals is also posting daily through February, a month which will feature their first birthday, an achievement to celebrate – and the quality is well up there with the quantity.

Closer to home, what’s going on? The bad-news-good-news department reports that the limited engagement of Jailbreak! at Oxford Castle has had to come to an end for now, but an unconfirmed report from a friend who really enjoyed playing suggests that it has proved sufficiently popular that it might come back in a bigger, better form at some point before too long.

The biggest London news is that this weekend sees Test Fire, a “regular session of playing games, making games, talking about games, and drinking. High-energy and action-packed throughout“. This particular session is of unusual interest because it will feature Mink Ette, part of the team behind Portland’s 60 Minutes To Escape (where this site cannot praise the design concepts video enough) speaking on the topic and also Gareth Briggs who ran the extremely well-received MOLE game last year. Who knows what other exciting people there will be in attendance? (Sadly travelling will get in the way here this time, but maybe some other month soon!)

One-day game coming to London next month: MOLE

"The Mole logo from Channel 5Two posts in one day after a bit of a gap, but this one is very exciting. It’s not clear whether it’s time-sensitive or not, but perhaps best not to hang around in case it is.

In 1999, the game show De Mol was first broadcast in Belgium. It documented the progress of a team of contestants, solving challenges from week to week in order to earn money for the communal prize pot. However, one of the contestants was secretly the titular Mole and had a secret mission to attempt to stop the challenges from succeeding. At the end of each episode, all the contestants would be set a quiz about the identity, appearance and behaviour of the Mole, with the least successful contestant eliminated from the game. The player who won the final quiz won the communal prize pot.

The show has aired in well over a dozen versions around the world. The UK had a version that ran for two series in 1999 and 2000 and was named the greatest UK game show ever in a poll of UK Game Shows readers, so pretty hardcore game show fans; the show has run for fourteen series, and counting, as Wie is de Mol in the Netherlands. Is it a puzzle show? The central puzzle of identifying the show runs through its heart, and some of the challenges can be spectacular puzzles, such as the first one of this episode of the Australian version.

Gareth Briggs has announced that he will be running a one-day interpretation of the show at a central London location, to be later revealed, on at least Saturday 25th October. (Sufficient demand might inspire a second game on Sunday 26th October as well.) There will be some changes to the format; while it remains an elimination game at its core, there’s a considerable difference between an elimination game as part of a TV show and as part of a fun fan game as a day out.

There have been attempts to run The Mole as a fan game in the past, notably those of Erin Sparks, well worth watching. Given that there have been fourteen series of the show in the Netherlands, it seems virtually certain that there will have been fan versions held there as well. Nevertheless, it’s clear that the game only really works when it’s played with full contact; part of the challenge of some games may involve working out how people will react when they are pushed close to their limits. The fact that there’s a stake (albeit a small one) will help, but it may well be that a ready-for-anything, take-no-prisoners attitude is required as to what you might be required to do during the day. Gareth Briggs‘ track record is pretty aggressive – a high compliment – so this may well not be a walk in the park.

There are some people for whom this will be the game of the year; while the show had the play-along aspect of finding the mole, part of the appeal is wondering how you might cope with the challenges. This is a very rare chance to find out whether you can walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Gareth describes this as a prototype game, and has hinted at a possible repeat, but at this point it’s not clear whether it might not just be a glorious one-off. Accordingly, if you’ve ever thought you’d like to give the game a try, or even be the Mole, can you afford to miss this opportunity? No deadline for the application is listed, but best not find out the hard way!