Licence to Escape

"Licence to Escape" poster logoFriday night saw the very exciting Licence to Escape pop-up event in the centre of London, as previewed a week and a half ago. The event was a huge success and people generally had tonnes of fun.

The event took place in the Supernatural Fitness event space, beneath the Supernatural juice bar very near one of the Paddington tube stations; this was remarkably well-suited for the event, featuring half a dozen alcoves, each perhaps ten feet square, which was a good size and shape for a tiny little one-room, five-minute exit game.

The event was organised by thinking bob and Yelp! UK, with extremely tasty cakes by Royal Rosey Cakes (both the red velvet and chocolate mint cakes come well and truly recommended) and half a dozen suppliers of alcoholic drinks and custom mixers. The event was played in teams of six; if your party had fewer than six members, you would be teamed up with other parties to make a full half-dozen.

The concept was based around an attempt to identify a traitor from a list of 24 in the training manual; each potential traitor had a selection of characteristics. There were six five-minute exit games to play, and a custom web page (with associated score-tracking system) that was used for scoring purposes – an impressive piece of tech for a one-night activity, unless the Thinking Bob team have plans to reuse the tech for some other such collection of mini-games down the line, or have adapted it from some previous event of theirs.

For each team in turn, the gamesmasters behind each room would start the countdown timer for their room for that team; hopefully the team would solve the puzzle in time and find the word associated with that room, with stopping the clock earning points from that room. Stopping the clock in a room would also give you a clue to some of the characteristics that did, or didn’t, apply to the traitor, so you could eliminate possibilities, Guess Who-style.

After the sixth room, you had another five minutes to enter the name of the traitor. If you’d solved enough rooms, only one candidate for the traitor would remain; with incomplete information, there would be several possibilities who you would have to try one at a time, being locked out for twenty seconds between attempts. (Additionally, there was an additional live action outdoor game, courtesy of Fire Hazard, where further points could be earnt by solving cryptic clues to find physical checkpoint stickers, within a few hundred yards, without being sighted by agents.)

In alphabetical order:

  • clueQuest‘s room was a precise but robustly constructed multi-stage physical puzzle, beautifully timed to provide close finishes when fitting into a five-minute slot.
  • Enigma Escape‘s room attractively but abstractly depicted a murder scene and hid a sequence puzzle to identify the next victim.
  • Enigma Quests‘s room may have been the most evocative, with beautiful props concealing a riddle and a classic physical puzzle concealing its answer.
  • Escape Rooms‘s room had a remarkable and delightful piece of kit to play with featuring a single very tough logic puzzle, which only a small number of teams were able to get the better of.
  • Lock’d‘s room offered a lot to enjoy: four mini-puzzles to identify agents’ identities and locations then place them on the map.
  • Mystery Cube‘s room had many different boxes to unlock, with a wide assortment of techniques used and considerable to-ing and fro-ing, in an intricate way that required excellent co-operation.

The juxtaposition of complex puzzles and potent potables gave people two radically different sorts of things to enjoy, though it will be interesting to see whether teams who had been enjoying the free bar for longer had the same degree of success at the puzzles as those who played at the start of the night! To tell the whole of the story, while it’s impossible to generalise, introverts may have enjoyed the evening less. In general, exit games can be environments in which introverts shine, and Thinking Bob do run events which are introvert-friendly; the combination on offer on the night was rather more loud and lairy than most exit game environments.

A tremendous night with a great deal of love and thought going into it. Many thanks to everyone involved.

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