Mid-April news


This site has got a little behind on news, so this post and the next will catch up on stories arising, some from within the country and others from overseas.

The most recent episode of Push Your Luck podcast features Prof. Scott Nicholson talk about, obviously, exit games along with one of his friends who used the exit game format to co-organise the very exciting-sounding Library Lockdown, teaching upper secondary students in Singapore about library skills. Every time Scott speaks, there’s something new worth listening to; he estimates that his white paper contained about 30% of what he learnt from the survey, and more and more of the remaining 70% is being revealed in different ways.

This time, there is a particularly interesting take on designing replayability in exit games, with mention of an unnamed but extremely exciting-sounding live-action adventure game in Wisconsin Dells – at a guess, Wizard Quest? Scott has a charming and practical take on safety as well; with hundreds of thousands or millions of players, we’re into the territory where one-in-a-million accidents will happen, and so it’s worth making sure that the worst consequences happen once-in-a-billion rather than once-in-a-million.

It’s clear that the podcast was recorded a few weeks ago, for there is mention that the MIT Escape Room Game Jam had not happened yet. (The #escapemit hashtag hasn’t revealed much for a while; has anyone blogged about their experience at the event? Have any of the game ideas been published?) There is also mention of an interview with Newsweek, which only in the last day or two has been published; it’s very good work, especially for a mainstream piece. The research is thorough, featuring not just Scott but Dave Spira of Room Escape Artist and two site owners. Everyone comes off looking good, not least the writer Stuart Miller.

Lastly for this post, Escape Reviewer of Toronto is teaming up with Escape Games Review and Escape Room Addict to run a Puzzle Contest, fresh off the global success of the puzzle hunt organised by the latter two web sites. This has attracted even more support from the Greater Toronto Area exit game community, with 23 sites donating over 80 prizes, some free games and others discounted games. The fun starts on April 25th!

Coming soon to East Anglia: Puzzle Room

Adapted from CC 3.0-BY-SA-licenced http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:East_Anglia_UK_Locator_Map.svg by User:Nilfanion User:WkerrySome people consider East Anglia to be just Norfolk and Suffolk, others include east Cambridgeshire (or maybe just the city of Ely!) and perhaps a little of Essex as well. That’s a puzzle for some other occasion, possibly one without an absolute authority to give a definitive answer.

However, this site is really excited to read about Puzzle Room, taking an unusual approach. Specifically, it’s a pop-up game where the first challenge is to not to find it so much as to catch it. “We roam the towns and villages of East Anglia, setting up our puzzle rooms in hotels, halls and function rooms so we could pop-up in your area soon.” It will be available next Saturday at the Kesgrave Community Centre in the small town of the same name, four miles or so east of Ipswich. If you’re at all nearby, keep following the booking page to see if the site is coming your way: locations around Ipswich, Stowmarket, Kesgrave and Martlesham have been suggested. Perhaps it might travel further around at least Suffolk if there’s the demand.

The first game is the Locked in Library Challenge, designed to be played by teams of four to eight, with a charge of £80 per team. The pop-up aspect is really interesting. First of all, it’s a way to bring the game to very small markets which would be unlikely to be able to support a full-time room by themselves. It’s also noteworthy (though not unique) to see a game that is clearly not a full-time commercial enterprise. The pop-up nature of the game may well mean that it’s quite possible for the game to change relatively quickly from play to play, particularly to respond to feedback from players, and perhaps it might be relatively quick for new games to be introduced, and thus the potential for replay value is high. On the other hand, as the venue changes so quickly, perhaps the physical locations might not be as elaborate. It remains to be seen how the games can take advantage of the locations at which they are played, but the potential is remarkable.

There have been other pop-up games in the past, even if not mobile ones, and other people talking about the potential for pop-up exit games. It’ll be very interesting to see how this game turns out and whether this might well be a wider part of the future of exit games in general.

Themed Thursday: Betrayal II

Are you an angel or a devil?(This is a follow-up from this site’s attempt two weeks ago of the previous prompt of Betrayal.)

You and your team are playing an adults-only exit game called Afterlife. It becomes clear, some of the way through, that two team members will have to split off from the rest of the team, one of whom is required to retrieve information from “Heaven”, the other from “Hell”. You ever-so-bravely volunteered to go to “Heaven”.

You opened a low door and made your along a short crawl-space barely a couple of feet high, then turned back on yourself for a second crawl-space on top of the first, then a third on the top of the second. This concept of going up felt in keeping with the traditional viewpoint of heaven being above, and the decor became more sky-like and the soundtrack more ethereal. At the top of the final crawlspathence, you made your way into a small, brightly lit, wonderfully bright white room.

So it turns out that “Heaven” has a big comfortable chair, with a table next to it, on top of which is a top-of-the-range coffee machine. A freshly-made cup of tea is pushed onto the table through a hidden door, along with two chocolate digestives. You look for your next challenge… and there is nothing to do but sit down.

It turns out there is a video screen in the wall – and as you sit down, a video starts to play. A handsome man and a beautiful lady, both elegantly dressed, sidle on from the sides, and start to take their jackets off. One of them blows a kiss and leaves… leaving you only your favourite sort of stripper to watch. (But how did they know? Were they tracking the motions of your pupils to see where you were looking?)

Your chosen stripper says “Hi there! Welcome to Heaven. Stay awhile. You’re in no rush to leave. Enjoy the tea, or the coffee, and the biscuits. Or perhaps you’d like something a little stronger?” You mutter “A lager would be nice”… a few seconds later, the video says “We’ll see what we can do. Just give us a few minutes.” Then the jacket comes off, and the stripper starts to undo the buttons of their shirt, one by one.

They say “So you’re here about a puzzle answer, right? The answer to the heaven puzzle… well, that’ll be with you in a moment. And here’s your drink.” The next thing through the hidden door is, indeed, a can of lager. You regret not naming a brand! The stripper then starts to talk through the puzzle you were facing, showing more and more beautifully tanned skin. You’re aware of the time limit, but the lager does look tempting – and so cold! – and there’s nothing else to do while you’re waiting for the answer to be given.

The stripper confirms everything you thought you knew about that last puzzle, while now having only a couple of garments on apart form underwear, then just before confirming the answer you’re missing, says “One more thing. Stay here. You can be more use to your team here than back in the room, because if you stay here, I’ll tell you all about the puzzles that are coming up and how to solve them. And if you stay here for just two more minutes, you’ll get some cold, hard cash to take away with you. The answer you’re after is seventeen.”

You hadn’t seen someone stripping while explaining puzzles before, but you have now, and it’s remarkable how good they are at both halves of it. The stripper directs you to a box on the wall… and suddenly a stream of coins falls out of it. They fall into another box below, which directs them back out of the room, but you can catch them as they stream. Sure, they’re only 5ps and 10ps, but a double handful of them adds up, and you wonder just how much you can stuff in your pockets.

So you’re in an exit game, and there’s this person you can’t take your eyes off, but you have some lovely drinks to drink and biscuits, and someone’s pushed a very cute-looking cake through to enjoy as well, and you’re getting the answers to the puzzles so your team will be really happy with you when you get back to them and it’s all confusing and overwhelming but in a good sort of way and… er, would you look at that.

OK. Now you know how to solve the next three puzzles and they sound like really good puzzles and you’re looking forward to getting back and solving them, but if you just wait for three more minutes and learn the answers to the last puzzle then you’ll get a T-shirt to keep as well as everything else. And the stripper… well, that doesn’t leave much to the imagination, does it?

Well, this wasn’t how you expected this game to turn out. The stripper has put on quite a show, and you’ve had a lovely little snack, and got a handful of cash, and a voice asked you your shirt size, and a couple of minutes later a bag came into the room with a shirt in your size.

And all the lights suddenly go from white to red. The stripper has gone. The mood has suddenly changed, and the angelic pan-pipes have been replaced with a loud, discordant buzz. What you can now see on the screen is… well, that looks like your team, and they seem to be going mad waiting for you.





The Metagrobologist

The Metagrobologist logo

The Metagrobologist is a beautiful, beautiful site about mechanical puzzles and those who love them. The star attraction is the magazine, an online .pdf to download full of interviews with mechanical puzzle designers and collectors. The first issue was released in three parts over the course of 2014; the second issue has had its first part released a couple of weeks or so ago and the remainder will roll out over the course of the year. Many of the interviews are also featured on the web site.

The puzzles themselves look gorgeous, far more often than not, and magazine editor Dave Holt has the same tremendous sense of aesthetic taste, which is reflected in the site and magazine’s design. The lighting on the photography consistently shows the items off to their full effect; so many of the design elements on the layout of the site clearly have a great deal of love lavished on them. The standard of craftsmanship of the site matches up with that of the site’s subject matter.

From the outside, the world of mechanical puzzles can seem to be a little difficult to get into at a deeper-than-Rubik’s-cube level; some of the pieces can cost a few tens, others several hundreds. (Yet, as seems to be the case with so many aspects of the puzzle world, it seems likely that people are paying themselves very scant wages for the considerable time and effort they put in, even putting aside the expertise in artifice that they have developed as well as their plain ingenuity.) When serious collectors own many hundreds, or thousands, of puzzles, it’s clear that it’s possible to delve extremely deeply into the hobby, especially if you are well-heeled. As with many other puzzle hobbies, there is great intrigue and joy to be had, no matter what level of depth you find yourself comfortable with.

The London Puzzle Party meets monthly on the second Tuesday of each month, which would surely be a very accessible way to learn more about the mechanical puzzle hobby. Of course, the London legs of Puzzled Pint also meet – as does every other Puzzled Pint around the world – on the second Tuesday of each month. What are the chances of the collision? It’s tempting to guess at “about 1 in 30”, considering the usual ratio of months to days, but this site hypothesises that regular monthly events are not going to be uniformly distributed about the month, with a tendency towards midweek days, and “about 1 in 20” might feel more plausible. If you like one, you’d probably like the other, though you probably know in advance which one suits you better. Nevertheless, both are well worth a go!

Talking of events well worth a go, there are only six of the original 25 tickets remaining for the DASH 7 puzzle hunt in London and 15 US cities, less than seven weeks away. As both of the monthly events mentioned above will be happening this week, people will be meeting this week, likely discussing DASH and registering. Those six are likely to go very soon!

Early April news

Rolled-up newspaper

A quick round-up of a few news stories:

The BBC quote Netmums as suggesting that On average, parents spend £135 on their child’s party, with one-in-six parents admitting to splashing out over £300. A few sites emphasise their suitability for parties, at least for older children; The Room of Glasgow have a room designed to be played by 10-16-year-olds (and 10-16 of them!) and The Gr8 Escape of Belfast have a number of party packages available. Definitely a route well worth considering.

This site was excited to see Can You Escape? of Edinburgh make a Pitch to Rich as part of Virgin Media Business’ so-entitled competition. The site launches its second, Operation Odyssey, room on Thursday, and even other local sites’ owners are looking forward to getting to play it. Can You Escape?‘s pitch seems to have got off to a popular start; this site wishes it well – and any other sites pitching for the funding, of course.

The Escape Game Addicts team played six exit games in a single day on Tuesday, escaping all of them, and made a must-read post about their epic day. To the best of this site’s knowledge, that’s an all-comers record for the UK – unless you know otherwise – though Daniel Hill of Escape played eight in a day in Budapest once. (Doubt that would have taken 110 miles of driving, mind you…)

Many congratulations to Enigma Escape of London, whose Kickstarter campaign finished up 112% funded, the first UK campaign to reach its goal. Follow its founders’ Twitter accounts at @sam_the_enigma and @hon_the_enigma to learn the behind-the-scenes story as the site gets built and under way.

Finally, this weekend sees the fourth round of the Puzzle Grand Prix series organised by the World Puzzle Federation – and this round has puzzles from Dutch authors. Take a look at the instruction booklet and if it’s for you, you have until Monday night to carve out a 90-minute window in which to answer puzzles to score yourself as many points as you can.

Mechanics Monday: a role-playing redux

Tabletop RPG character sheet (could be D&D 4th edition?)Really interesting Mechanics Monday piece on role-playing in exit games by Mark at QMSM today, which has inspired a few not-completely-developed-but-getting-there thoughts to progress the conversation along, hoping to inspire the people who really know to get involved. Prof. Nicholson’s white paper on exit games notes games with exit-game-like characteristics that preceded exit games as they are known today, and provides evidence of reasonably close direct predecessors having taken place as part of larger live-action RPGs in previous decades.

Choose your own dictionary and pick your own definition, but Collins’ one of the act of imitating the character and behaviour of someone who is different from yourself seems like a fair enough start. This is familiar enough from language-learning exercises, but also from games. Any war game in which you consider yourself to be in charge of military has elements of role-playing. Stretch this back far enough and it’s tempting to stretch to games in the chess family, but the distinction is beautifully illustrated by John Wick:

((…))the focus of an RPG is to tell stories. Let me explain. Chess is not a roleplaying game. Yes, you can turn it into a roleplaying game, but it was not designed to be a roleplaying game. If you give your King, Queen, Rooks, Knights and even your pawns names and make decisions based on their motivations – instead of the best strategic move possible – you’ve turned chess into a roleplaying game.

The extent to which a game has the role-playing nature or not depends on what sorts of thoughts the players have while they’re playing it. There’s a theory that engaging more different players’ senses will engage more of their brain; live-action role-playing games can be much more tactile than tabletop ones in this way, and can be designed to trigger other senses as well. This “five sense” principle was an overt goal for, and an explicit set of inspirations for some of the puzzles within, the brilliant-looking no-charge Sensation exit game run by Dr. Bryan Clair for teams at St. Louis University. Prof. Nicholson’s white paper does report on small proportions of commercial exit games deliberately incoporating unusually multi-sensory challenges.

(Side note: there’s at least one site in North America with a room with a really cute advertising gimmick – being much more coy about the contents of that room than the others other than a higher price and a strictly-applied age limit, letting the players’ imaginations guess at what might cause the extra restriction for that game only, much as the earliest horror movies did. Perhaps it would be cute and popular to have an 18+ room with a higher price, where one crucial part of the gimmick turns out to be that the surcharge pays for adult beverages served during the course of the game.)

One of the ways in which, to a reasonable first degree of generalisation, exit games have a nature different from conventionally-understood role-playing games is that exit games have defined “win” and “lose” conclusions, and players are required to use their own intelligence and resourcefulness as players rather than taking the roles of characters who can certainly have no more intelligence and resourcefulness than the players portraying them. When application of these mental skills may well be a crucial part of what determines whether the conclusion is “win” or “lose”, there is little incentive for players ever to voluntarily take on additional constraints on themselves and attempt to adopt an additional character while encountering the content of an exit game.

There are at least two approaches to play with this. Perhaps getting into character and risking a lower level of success might be a challenge that a particularly confident team might set themselves when facing an exit game which they suspect to be relatively easy, but it would take a team with a particularly high regard for art to find this experience more compelling than playing the game out of character. An alternative approach would be to attempt to give players additional powers compares to the ones they have in real life, and the interview with the creators of Breakout in Avenue K by Escman League touches on this. Enabling people to use these additional powers is something that needs to be very carefully handled or it may risk throwing people out of their degree of suspension of disbelief.

So a question for game operators is the extent to which they intend role-playing to be crucial within their game, over and above participating in the game narrative. It’s still a little of a loaded term; while video games that would be considered fantasy RPGs are broadly known and widely accepted, there’s still the perception of the term being linked to traditional tabletop gaming. The graphic at the top of the article probably doesn’t help, but are there alternative, instantly-recognisable role-playing images that could be used instead? An explicitly role-playing-focused room would be a stand-out positive for some players, but possibly not for many, when people think of exit games as adventures rather than as games.

Perhaps it might be wise to have one room in a facility having more of a focus than others and then continue to work hard that people will first play the room within your facility that is best suited to them, but the degree of emphasis would be carefully handled to avoid turning off players who end up facing it other than through explicit preference for its features (for instance, if it’s the only room available at the time they want to play). Going back to Mark’s original post, his prediction that rooms might have additional role-playing focus as an option rather than a necessity sounds very smart… and potentially cost-effective.

Lastly, if you have a room and you’re aiming for it to succeed from a role-playing perspective, here’s a possible test. If your players manage to solve every puzzle and complete every challenge in the room in good time and then choose not to leave before the time limit because they’d prefer to spend longer in the game and finish with the “fail” ending rather than spending less time in the game and finish with the “win” ending, your room’s evidently doing pretty well!

No fooling: an exit game on a cruise liner

Royal Caribbean's "Anthem of the Seas". Credit: Screenshots from HD1080i - watch the full video at http://www.hd1080i.de/en/

Credit: Screenshot from HD1080i – watch the full video at http://www.hd1080i.de/en/

This site enjoyed the April Fools’ Day fun from Clue HQ (suggesting their fourth game would be The Sinking Ship, both by name and by nature), from Escape Quest (now deleted, suggesting that you would have some thematic company when you play their new Amazon Escape game) and from Breakout Manchester (suggesting what happened to a cleaner locked in overnight at their Virus game). However, more than all of these, this site enjoyed a post which appeared to be made at 1:01am on April 1st from the Puzzle Break exit game of Seattle. The catch is that Facebook was helpfully translating the time from its original Pacific time zone to British Summer Time, and the original piece was posted late on 31st March in Seattle. No kidding going on.

The exciting news is that Puzzle Break have announced that “we are partnering with Royal Caribbean on our shipboard escape room experience: “Escape from the Future!” Available on Anthem of the Seas. Escape the room while escaping on the Mediterranean!“. A second post with more details suggests that the game will be installed on this brand new cruise liner, which will be the equal third largest in the world. With such a new and impressive ship, it seems only fitting that it will feature the world’s most up-to-date attractions. Marine Trader has more details of the observation capsule, the restaurants and the vast scale of the liner, and Cruise Critic has confirmation of not only the Puzzle Break room but also a huge art piece. It also has another article detailing other innovations, including a skydiving simulator, a circus school and bumper cars. If you’re going to have all of those, why wouldn’t you have an exit game on board as well?

So what do we know about the game? Back to Puzzle Break’s post: “Escape from the Future will be available on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas. Anthem of the Seas will be based out of Southampton. ((…)) It will be cruising around the Mediterranean starting later this month! Escape from the Future shares some content with our original (no longer offered) Escape from Studio D. Escape from the Future will be FREE for cruisers.” As well as the Mediterranean cruises, the liner will be offering three-night mini-breaks from the end of the month, starting at around £430 per person. Once the Southampton season around the North Sea and the Mediterranean has finished, the liner will have a winter season from the East Coast of the US around the Caribbean. Immensely exciting and huge congratulations to Puzzle Break for striking the deal; fingers crossed that it’s a fruitful partnership that lasts for years and years.

In other news: the Kickstarter campaign from Enigma Escape has less than 48 hours to run. Excitingly, it’s over 95% funded, and looking promising. This will be the first UK exit game Kickstarter campaign to fund, so you can think in terms of backing as making an advance puchase of a ticket with an attractive opening discount. Also, there are only eleven team spaces remaining if you want to book for DASH 7 in London, so don’t hang around!

Coming soon to Glasgow: Tick Tock Unlock

Tick Tock Unlock's new Leeds locationThe famous Tick Tock Unlock recently announced on their Facebook that they will be expanding to a third location, this one in Glasgow. It’s a huge metropolis; although it’s long been served by Escape and the brand new The Room, surely it’s big enough to support three different sites. (It does remain to be seen whether four different competitors can all thrive in a city outside London, though.) The Facebook message suggests that it’ll be opening in about a week’s time. (Tick Tock Unlock had a tease where they were inviting people to guess their new location, but you could look at a jobs site and see them recruiting for quite a convincing clue…)

If you’re very observant, you might be aware that the graphic above isn’t actually of the new Glasgow location. Instead, it’s of the Kings House office building in Leeds to which the original Tick Tock Unlock location has originally moved. Inside Media suggest that the location has taken 1,719 ft2 of space, which is a very decent size and promises much for the future. Tick Tock Unlock have already hinted at a “new game coming soon”; for now, they have already opened a second room of their original Blueprint game, enabling always-popular head-to-head competition. This site has long suspected that the original Tick Tock Unlock in Leeds was one of the busiest single-room locations in the country, so opening a second room should help people get to experience the game that has gained such high ratings on TripAdvisor at the time they want to play it. Exciting times!

Unrelatedly, this site has a very strong suspicion that the vast majority of locations up and down the UK and Ireland are doing excellent business this Easter; it’s still cold enough that people are attracted to indoor activities, and the Easter weekend is a traditional time to get together for fun with family and friends. Considering that locations tend to be busier on Saturdays than on any other day of the week, and considering how quickly the market is continuing to grow, this site would bet fairly good money at short odds that more people are playing an exit game in the UK and Ireland today than on any other single day previously. That said, if it is indeed a record, it’s probably one that’s going to get broken again before much longer!

Coming soon to Nottingham: Escapologic

Escapologic logoEscapologic is set to blend escapology with logic when this new exit game opens in Nottingham on May 1st. Situated on Castle Gate, a couple of hundred metres south of the Old Market Square tram stop, the site will launch with two games – and correspondence suggests two more may well be on their way.

The site promises movie-quality special effects and completely realistic set and sound design, with machines to build and operate, hidden switches to find and codes to crack. The first two rooms have one-hour time limits and are designed to be played by teams of two to five; prices have not been revealed, but it has been suggested the price range will be £40 for two players up to £80 for teams of five. You are invited to choose between an abandoned steampunk inspired laboratory or a horror-filled crypt for the first two games.

The former of these, entitled Con-trap-tion, sets the scene like so: The room is dark. A single beam of light illuminates a key on a desk… In the shadows, strange machinery creaks and groans. Half-blinded by the spotlight, you make your way towards the key, stumbling on unidentifiable contraptions, apparently left in haste by whoever has been here before you… In the deep darkness at the end of the room, something is crouching under a huge tarpaulin…

Alternatively, Crypt-ic is the second game, where Stepping in to the room medieval age seeps through the draping and tapestries adorning the castle stone walls. Weaponry and Armour dating back centuries hold their own dark secrets and stories, however; it is the ominous looking machine that dominates the room and captures intrigue. To the right are shackled doors, which offer a glimpse through to a further chamber which can only have dark intentions…

These sound like remarkable places to play and this site is really intrigued to see whether the puzzles and challenges match up to the atmospheric surroundings. The coming soon page‘s countdown timer shows the attention to detail, happily following up on this site’s opinion on the most steampunk things in the world. Definitely one to watch very closely!

Looking forward to DASH 7 in London – and DASH 7 roll call!

DASH 7 logo
The seventh DASH puzzle hunt will happen in London from 10 a.m. on Saturday 30th May. DASH stands for “Different Areas, Same Hunt”; part of the attraction is that the same event will also be run in 14 cities across the United States on the same day, so competition is global. (Sadly Toronto won’t be happening this year… but surely is a shoo-in for next time.) Registration is open, but is limited to 25 slots – and ten of them have gone in the first 36 hours already. Last year, this site predicted all 25 slots would go; in truth, 21 went. This year, with the likes of Puzzled Pint spreading the word much more widely, this site reckons they’re all going to go within the next two weeks.

In DASH, teams of 3-5 players solve 8-10 puzzles as quickly as possible over the course of, probably, 5-8 hours. You walk from puzzle location to location, enjoying the journey and hopefully the weather. The travel is not timed, so you can take whatever comfort breaks, meals and other pauses you like between puzzles. The cost in London is, as for the last two years, £25 per team – but this year the booking system imposes an 8½% booking fee surcharge.

As last year is that each team is required to bring a smartphone running either iOS 7 or a recent version of Android; much of the administration will be performed by an app called ClueKeeper. Bring your own pencils, scissors, tape, Enigma machines and so on, too. (Tape is listed as essential this year.)

DASH has historically tended to concentrate on word and picture puzzles, rather than logic puzzles, with a focus on pattern recognition and some codebreaking here and there along the way. There’ll be a riot if there isn’t a metapuzzle to tie everything together at the end and the DASH style is to have an overarching story running through the event. Take a look at past years’ puzzles from DASHes 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 to get a feel for the form and difficulty level.

DASH tries very hard to be accessible and family-friendly:

  • It’s possible to register for Easier Puzzles at the very start of the hunt, though clear guidance is given as to which level of difficulty will suit you best;
  • This year, it’s possible (in practice, as well as in theory, in London) to register for “DASH Junior” puzzles, intended to be solved by a team of (probably 10-17-year-old) kids accompanied around the course by a non-solving chaperone;
  • It’s made clear that it’s always possible to take hints on each puzzle if they’re required (indeed, the software keeps rolling hints along on a timed schedule even if you don’t ask for them) and there’s never a worse punishment than a missed scoring opportunity for not solving a puzzle;
  • The puzzles are often designed so that everybody in the team should be able to contribute to each puzzle, because feeling “we solved this together between us” is fun;
  • In practice, there really is an ethos of offering as many hints as are required in order to get people through as many puzzles as possible and making sure people are having fun at all times.

Both of the two previous London events were outstanding; I wrote about DASH 5 at length at the time. One of my teammates, Iain, also wrote an account of that event, with gorgeous pictures, in two parts; he also produced a fantastic 80-minute podcast (from 1:54 onwards) about the DASH 6 event. Iain has always been very measured in his praise and thoughtful about the event’s marginal shortcomings, so it’s to the event’s strength that he will be leading the event this year.

More information will be posted at the London Twitter feed, or send questions to the London organisers. (If you’re less interested in playing and more interested in helping out, or if all the teams’ places have been filled, you can also volunteer to help, and maybe even playtest the puzzles if you’re really quick – so if the 30th May date doesn’t work for you, this might be your chance.) The DASH 7 logo hints at a possible theme, if you recognise the logotype, and if this supposition proves correct then the opportunity to play this hunt in London might be especially thematic.

If you’re looking to find teammates, there’s a post on Facebook to which you are invited to reply – or, perhaps, you might enjoy turning up at Puzzled Pint on Tuesday 14th and looking for teammates in person. If you have teammates, then consider this thread a roll call. Looking forward to seeing lots of you there!