Pop-up book graphicThis site recently very much enjoyed reading about an exciting publicity technique operated by Escape Hunt of London at this week’s World Travel Market conference. On a small (6 m2) stand, packed to the rafters, they had a very small (one-player?) little exit game for people to come and try.

Well done to them for promoting the exit game industry at large to a conference where people might not have expected to find it; despite the size of the room being about that of a typical WC, it was sufficiently well-packed to attract people’s attention and gain excited tweets from those who thoroughly enjoyed their very little lock-in, setting the record by escaping with six minutes to spare.

There’s definitely the potential for pop-up exit games, and indeed this isn’t unique. Two museums in Cambridge are hosting such games, one for each of the next two Tuesdays as part of the Curating Cambridge festival (more, please!) and this site has already written about the week-long Escap3d @ the MAC, again as part of a festival.

The world is bound to see other such events in the future. For instance, Escape of Edinburgh, Glasgow and also now Newcastle hinted at striking deals to run pop-up games at the end of a recent, really good interview they conducted with STV (and another one tailored towards their Glasgow branch as well). Extremely promising.

On a much, much smaller scale, it’s tempting to wonder whether there might be a future for other micro-escape games. That sort of size is about the size of a typical market stall; some cities may also provide high-profile, highly subsidised retail space to start-ups, such as Stockton-on-Tees’ Enterprise Arcade. Clearly you could put an exit game in there, but could you put one worth playing, one that might get people begging for more?

Hard to say, and it would be a very different model from that which exists at the moment. Markets are noisy; outdoor markets can also be windy – and, if you’re downwind from the fish stall, possibly also a bit whiffy. It would be hard to build up much of an atmosphere. It also takes time and detail for people to start to suspend disbelief and get into the game, which may be luxuries that a small market stall sized installation might not have. Exit games, so far, have not been things can do as impulse purchases; it’s more usual to require people to book well in advance, with the anticipation of the game contributing to the experience. It’s also key to think of the clientele; market shoppers are typically looking for bargains, rather than for experiences.

This is putting up strong arguments against markets possibly being a step too far. However, perhaps someone will be smart enough to find an ideal way for good things to come in small boxes, even in the exit game field.

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