Exit Games UK is one year old today!

Birthday cake with one candleHappy Birthday to this site! Please help the celebrations by spending 45 seconds or so to open this page and fill in a very quick survey. Just mark as many or as few of the boxes as are appropriate, and the results will be summarised in the last week of March 2015.

The survey arises because this site doesn’t really trust its hit counter and statistics package. The number of visitors that this site attracts fell by about half a few weeks ago. It seems a little unlikely that the number of humans visiting this site has actually fallen hard; every WordPress blog attracts masses of spammers trying to leave comments advertising their products – at a guess, maybe 90% or 95% of the traffic to this site – and almost every blog puts a number of anti-spam measures in place. This site is counting on the (probably fairly small) number of humans visiting not having changed much, but the number of spammers having halved, for whatever reason.

Too much blogging about blogging can make those who don’t blog go “bleurgh” – better write about the topic itself. However, on the birthday itself, it’s probably reasonable to take stock. It’s been far more successful and exciting than even wildest expectations; many thanks go to those who have contributed to the blog, to those who have spent their time, effort and so-o-o-o many resources putting the games of so many types in place for us all to play, and very much to readers like you for taking the time, trouble and interest to read and follow what’s going on. Updating this blog has got much easier over time, simply because the rate of developments is so rapid that there’s so much to talk about – the posts often, more or less, write themselves.

The biggest highlight has been the people; it’s been a thrill to get to know some delightful and singular people through the blog over the past year. It’s really exciting to see all the blogs that have sprung up both in the UK and around the world, and people helping the industry by writing more enthusiastic and insightful reviews than this site ever could. The interviews have been great fun, particularly when they’ve given me the chance to meet amazing people in real life. If there’s been a lowlight, it’s that the site’s busiest day came on the only day with bad news so far.

It’s a thrill that there are so many games out there, but more importantly, it’s a delight how many ideas there are out there and the exciting variety of ways in which people are developing the exit game concept. Last July, a prediction of reaching 20 games by the end of the year seemed a little ambitious; just a few months later, the truth way has way outstripped that. This site cares slightly less about how many games there are out there than it does about how many games can thrive; it would rather see 40-80 games flourish for the long term than a bubble of 100-200 games that oversaturate the market.

So to the future. The frequency of posts may well decrease slightly over time; contributions are always welcome. The layout may well change again, as there are some significant ways in which it is sub-optimal, though it may require some outside expertise and additional WordPress-wrangling skills; if you have the knowledge and willingness to assist, please pipe up. (For instance: this layout seems to eat tick-boxes whenever you try to embed a poll in a post, which is why this site has had to use an external polling service. Grrrrr.) The map at Play Exit Games is amazing in the way that it clusters nearby sites together; if anyone can explain, as if to a five-year-old, precisely how to produce a stunning clustering map like that, please get in touch at once.

Future emphases for the year to come include:

1) A change in focus from “helping people to find a game to play” to “helping people to find the right game for them“. With sites from Aberdeen to Plymouth, it’s a reasonably safe assumption, to an acceptable degree of approximation, that people will be able to find a game to play. The fact that so many people will have a choice, and wildly different preferences determining how they would make that choice, is the next step to deal with.

2) Help people find all sorts of different puzzle adventures to play. Perhaps people will want to go to the near-freezing Czech Republic in autumn and be part of a thousand people running around looking for clues; perhaps people will want to pull up a cosy chair in the comfort of their own home and let the puzzles take them to all sorts of different places in their minds. If you like one sort of puzzle adventure, you may well like all sorts of others – but only if you know they exist, and if you know how to get into them.

3) Keep the bureaucracy going. Maybe the statistics that this site collects will turn out to be valuable and useful in the long term; maybe they won’t. If it turns out that they are of use, or if people can find some statistics that would be useful to collect, then stopping keeping track won’t help anybody.

Tomorrow won’t be a Mechanics Monday post, as more exciting site openings push the less time-critical posts into the slightly longer grass. Plenty of time for them to come over the next year… and beyond!

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