Escape Room Rumours – 6 February 2017

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Welcome to February and another rumour round up… This site is always on the look out for new games or venues that are opening, references in the media or anything else that might be of interest to the readers, so please do send an email if you spot anything of interest. That applies to owners too – feel free to send me your news for inclusion here. Don’t be shy!

On to the news

A slightly quieter week this time with just a few updates:

  • General
    • Interesting blog post about a group of students who designed an escape room game as part of their studies. The designers have promised they’ll write up a full spoiler-laden post at some point so expect to see it here at some point.
    • One of the team behind the Eden Escape project was interviewed on BBC Cornwall Radio. Yes, that’s South West England, but there are references to Time Run and the Crystal Maze, so perhaps of wider interest.
    • Aftermath: the Game seems to be an escape room style experience that comes to your home or office. The website has only just come online so I can’t give you any more details.
  • West Midlands
    • Immersive Events, a Shrewsbury-based company, have a long history of putting on prison related games. After a mass escape game last year, it looks like they’re now turning their eyes to smaller scale and regular escape rooms. With the games being based in an actual prison, and given the company name, you’ve got to think that Cell Escape is going to be heavy on the realism!
  • Scotland
  • Yorkshire and the Humber
  • North West England

That’s all I’m aware of. If any of the above is incorrect or if you’re aware of other news, discounts or competitions, then let me know via email or in the comments below and I’ll include updates in the next edition.

Thanks for reading!

Locked up in London

London

It’s been a while since this site turned its eyes towards the capital and in that time a bunch of rooms have appeared on the scene. Whether you’re north or south of the Thames, in the centre or the suburbs, prefer small venues or huge ones, we’ve got you covered. Read on to find about games in Camden, Romford, Bromley, Waterloo, Mile End and Highbury.

1) Inside Out Escape opened up in late September of last year and after a quiet start they exploded with an attractive Groupon offer that makes it almost impossible to book rooms in the short term.  For now, they’ve just got a single room which appear to be one of the Mazebase.hu games.  Whether you see that as a positive, with its tried and tested game, or a negative with its corporate polish spreading across the globe, is a matter of taste. The game itself costs £65 to £147 based on numbers which can range from 2-6 players.

The mystery is set around the disappearance of Sherlock Holmes. Dr. Watson and his team get a letter from Holmes himself who left many clues and riddles inside the room that will lead the players to locate Sherlock, who has been kidnapped by his master villain, Dr. Moriarty. Only the sharpest minded players can solve the twisted puzzles of the famous detective.
At the end of the game the players can reveal the hideout of Dr. Moriarty, where he keeps Sherlock kidnapped.

Note that this game also appears to be present in Escape Rooms Cardiff and Bolton’s No Exit!

2) Escapemobile are running a semi-temporary game at the Vault Festival for the next three months. Houdini’s Last Trick admits up to four players for £9 each.

The game sets audiences the task of escaping from a challenge designed by the Great Houdini himself. They must escape handcuffs, chains and straitjackets by solving a variety of magic and illusion themed puzzles; from finding a secret message hidden in playing cards to cracking the combination to a locked trunk.

3) Operation Escape opened up down in Bromley in mid-October with a single escape room, the Ops Room. Based around a World War II theme, the game can handle 2-6 players and costs £45-95 depending on numbers.

The story behind the game is told in the form of a telegram: TO BIGGIN HILL RAF SQUADRON DECODERS. URGENT. IMMINENT AIR ATTACK. ENTER AIR CONTROL OPS ROOM. WARNING. ROOM LOCKS ON ENTRY. YOU HAVE 60 MINUTES TO DECIPHER ENEMY CODE AND STOP ATTACK.

4) Breakin’ Escape is probably the most exciting entrant to the escape scene in London since, well, ever. Six new rooms imported from the Romanian company Breakout (no prizes for guessing why there’s been a name change for this franchise). The Romanian games are all themed around films but changes weren’t limited to the company name and the individual room names have also been modified to prevent any risk of infringement. All games take 3-6 players and cost £17-22 per person depending on numbers and day.

In Blackwing’s Cave, Knightsbane city is under attack. Dr. Drakker, the evil genius has escaped from prison and has sworn vengeance on his nemesis, the city’s hero, Blackwing. He has released all of the other prisoners from Alistair Penitentiary and has tracked down the location of Blackwing’s secret cave. Using his engineering skills he has set numerous traps for the hero by planting various devices in his cave only to be entertained by his torment. The fallen hero of Knightsbane city must now face his greatest challenge yet by defeating Dr. Drakker once more and bringing him to justice. As Blackwing’s sidekicks you will need to help him throughout all the mad puzzles prepared by his arch nemesis and escape the cave before the time runs out!

In Sherlock’s Despair it’s 21 October 1891 and you’re in London. Newspapers announce the death of one of the greatest detectives that has ever lived… Sherlock was working for the past months on the most important case in his career. He had become isolated and he had lost touch with the outside world. He was last seen on a dark alley in Westminster…the next day, a body was brought in to the King’s Hill Hospital morgue matching his description. It is your duty now, as Sherlock’s faithful assistant, to go into his office and unravel the mystery surrounding his death by solving his last case, but be careful, the one behind Sherlock’s murder may now be after you…

Over in the Flying Dutchman, from the depths of the sea a ship rises with a skeletal figure spearheading its bow, striking fear into the hearts of the bravest of sailors. The dreaded ship, The Flying Dutchman makes sail once again, led by its fierce captain. Davy Jones once was a man, but he was cursed by the woman he loved to roam the seas and ferry the souls of the damned to the other side for eternity. A most precious artifact has been stolen from his ship, and now he wants it back. You were one of the pirates that stole from Jones’ locker, but you were left behind when the Dutchman’s crew discovered you. Now you must find your way within the ship and manage to escape before the time runs out and you become part of Davy Jones’ undead crew… forever!

In War on Horizon Alpha, with the expansion of the human race on other planets, an oppressive regime has risen to power and instated a dictatorship on the Colonial Republic, the dreaded Alpha One faction. You and your team are part of a rebel alliance trying to overthrow the regime and reinstate democracy. A massive assault will take place on the Horizon Alpha space station, serving as the Alpha One headquarters, which aims to destroy it, thus sparking a revolution on all planets. Your mission is to infiltrate the station and deactivate the shields in time so that the assault may be successful. Without the shields down, the entire offensive will become a suicide mission. Good luck, you are the galaxy’s only hope!

Meanwhile in Butcher’s Lair, Dr. Vladimir Knifesblade, your friendly university professor seemed like a really nice person. You and your friends always enjoyed his lectures on human anatomy so when he invited you all to his house for a dinner party you never hesitated and accepted the invitation. Once you arrived at his house, though, the door was open so you went it. Nobody seemed to be home so you went down into the basement hearing some weird noises… The door slammed shut behind you and there was no way to move but forward…into the Doctor’s secret laboratory, where it looks like your group might be on the menu…

Finally, in Heist Plan: The Garage, you are part of a gang of street racers planning a major heist in New York City. Your goal is to hit the 5 major banks in Manhattan in one night, under the cover of an illegal street race where you will be participating with two of your tuned up cars. Everything was set for tonight but all your plans went haywire when one of your rival gangs broke into your garage, stole one of your cars and wrecked the other one. Now you have only one hour to fix the engine of your broken car, find the car park where they have taken you second car and steal it back and then make it in time to the race and finish the job. Do you think your crew has what it takes?

5) Clue Adventures welcomed their first customers in mid-October to play the Book of Secrets. It’s an interesting company in that the man behind it is a magician and the game itself is themed around magic. 2-6 players can play for a cost of between £56 and £144 depending on numbers.

In the story, on New Year’s Eve 1999 Master Magician Alistair Wilson literally disappeared never to be seen again. His former London flat is due to be demolished in one hour. Can you solve the mystery discover how and why he vanished and find his book?

6) Room Lockdown opened in late November with two games and more planned.

In Prison Break, you and your teammates are locked in a maximum security prison and are awaiting your execution. You were framed by a notorious serial killer and you are now facing charges for a murder you did not commit. There have been multiple attempts to escape from this maximum security prison but many people have failed and most inmates were either shot or recaptured while others disappeared without a trace, giving hope to inmates that there are ways to escape! The Warden and prison guards are holding an important meeting, you have sixty minutes to escape from the Prison and free yourself before they return.

The story behind the Curse of King Anum is as follows:  October 1906 a team of archaeologists start the excavation of King Anum deep within the pyramids of Egypt. In the process an evil curse is released and the whole team of archaeologists die! No one ever since has even got close to the cursed Tomb of King Anum Rumour has it that the archaeologists were in fact looking for a hidden treasure deep within the tomb – a red coloured stone believed to be the heart of King Anum It was believed to bring much wealth but once separated from King Anum, the curse is released, in a race against time your task is to make it out of the pyramid alive! The heart is in the chest of King Anum now a Mummy locked within the tomb

Possessed Doll has one of the longest intros I’ve ever seen, so I’ll give you but an excerpt. The story builds on a series of mysterious fires that took place in the same location, killing the occupants of the building.

According to the site, there’s also a zombie game on its way. Watch this space.


All that not enough? Well, sneak preview: expect Adventox, End Game and Modern Fables to join their ranks in the next month or two.

Escape Room Rumours – 30 January 2017

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Another week, another rumour round up… This site is always on the look out for new games or venues that are opening, references in the media or anything else that might be of interest to the readers, so please do send an email if you spot anything of interest. That applies to owner too – feel free to send me your news for inclusion here. Don’t be shy!

On to the news

As January draws to an end, it’s clear the market has properly woken up after its Christmas slumber:

  • General
    • I’ve been remiss in not mentioning this before. For those willing to head to the Netherlands, there’s an upcoming escape room conference called Up The Game. Tickets aren’t cheap but there are plenty of speakers including the David and Lisa from the Room Escape Artist, Fire Hazard, Scott Nicholson and Punchdrunk plus, undoubtedly, many more.
    • Cadbury’s are another company jumping on the Escape Room bandwagon with their Cadbury’s Creme Egg Lodge that’s visiting London, Bristol, Edinburgh and Leeds. It’s not clear how much of an escape room they’re running giving the very short ticket slots and it’s already sold out but still interesting.
    • I came across this article from Cambridge University’s Computer Lab about an attempt to create a virtual escape room.
  • East Midlands
  • West Midlands
    • Escape Stoke got a visit from their local newspaper
    • Escape Live Coventry are opening their doors with Prison Break their first game.
  • Scotland
    • Go Escape are in the process of launching in Dunfermline and were mentioned in a local paper.
  • South West England
    • Trapped Escape Rooms in Gloucester open their doors this week with two games: The Haunted Hotel and Prison Break
  • North East England
    • The Strategy are a new escape room company opening up in Sunderland. Several games in the works but The Box is their first offering.
    • Whitley Bay-based Pirate Escape opened their third room, The Tavern, last week. It’s a little unusual in that it’s aimed at smaller/beginner groups and has a minimum player count of just one…
  • London
    • Breakin’ Escape opens this week with six, yes SIX, rooms. This is a franchise of Breakout Romania (name changed in the UK because of the existing Breakout company). All six games are available immediately after a mammoth build over Christmas.
      • Blackwing’s Cave
      • Sherlock’s Despair
      • The Flying Dutchman
      • War on Horizon Alpha
      • Butcher’s Lair
      • Heist Plan: The Garage
    • Dyson’s popup escape game take place in London next week.
  • Yorkshire and the Humber
  • Ireland
  • North West England
  • East of England

That’s all I’m aware of. If any of the above is incorrect or if you’re aware of other news, discounts or competitions, then let me know via email or in the comments below and I’ll include updates in the next edition.

Thanks for reading!

Rising in the East (Midlands)

eastmidlandsaiport

It’s been a while since this site turned its eyes towards the East Midlands and in the meantime a bunch of new venues have appeared on the exitgames map scattered across the region. If you’re interested in Loughborough, Nottingham, Derby or Corby then read on to find out about all that’s new

1)  Up in Loughborough, Break Escape opened their doors just this week with a single game, Sands of Time, although a second game is listed on their site as opening in March. Teams of 2-5 can take on this Egyptian-themed challenge for £45-80 depending on numbers. No detailed description on the website but they do have a trailer.

2) Hour Escape have been on this site’s radar for a long time but they finally opened up shop in late October with a single game Escape the Gallery. They can accommodate 2-6 players with a price of £38-84 depending on numbers.  In the game, you and your team have been caught stealing a priceless work of art. Security are holding you until the police arrive in 60 minutes.

3) iLocked is a huge Russian brand with tens of games available across various cities in Russia, so it was exciting to see it arrive on these shores in November. A huge amount of investment has gone into their first game which is located in Nottingham, with more to follow in the city and longer term plans for expansion to other locations in the UK. At present, you’ll have to make do with the Mummy which is available for 2-6 people at a cost of £39-95 depending on numbers/day but they plan to add Alien and Battleship to the lineup in the near future.

In the Mummy you’re transported to the hot sands of the Egyptian desert, wher eanother pyramid has been discovered, and intrepid researchers are descending for the first time into the burial chambers, which no one has seen for nearly 3,000 years. The ancient Egyptians took care to defend their tombs against raiders, setting numerous traps and riddles. Players get the chance to be adventurers, trying to unravel the secrets of Egyptian papyri, escape the curse of an ancient pharaoh, and avoid being crushed by the pyramid’s moving walls.

4) The Escape Room Guys launched in Derby in October with a single room, A Rough Trade, based around corporate corruption. The game is for 2-5 players for which you’ll pay £40-70.

According to the website, you’ll need to break into the office of the CEO to reveal the history and secrets of a company with a scandalous past. With just 60 minutes to unlock the truth, does your team have what it takes to bring the company to justice?

5) Trapp’d have been on the list for an article longer than almost any other company, having opened way back in September of last year. In that time, they’ve launched two games, Area 51 and Maine St Prison, with another, Motel, due out next month. Games take 2-6 people and cost from £39 to £79 depending on numbers.

In Area 51 you and your team of ufologists have been receiving unknown communication regarding Area 51 via a certain Agent Peters, with precise details of how to bypass the extreme security and gain access into the site. Your mission is to get into Agent Peters’ laboratory and download all the government files before they are destroyed. Peters has guided you this far, the rest is down to you.

According to the website, Maine State Prison is a fearsome place from which to escape. With armed guards at every corner of the prison, only two people have ever managed to escape; the other 424 who tried were executed. Legend has it that the two heroes who escaped Maine State left a cryptic code in their cell which no-one has ever managed to crack. Solving this code holds the only key to any hope of escape. 

6) Unescapable opened a couple of weeks ago also in Derby with a time travel theme to their games. Their first outing, Tommy, sees you thrown back to 1917 but others promise to take you to different eras. Games are designed for 2-6 players with the cost ranging from £15-25 per person depending on numbers.

According to their website, Tommy has established itself in 1917, somewhere in the midst of the Western Front. Early reports suggest that Tommy is situated within an allied forces military bunker on the front lines. There is a very significant chance the slight possibility that the portal may malfunction once you have made your crossing, in which case, you’ll need to work together to repair the portal whilst also ensuring your safety from impending German forces.

So there you have it – six new venues spread across the East Midlands. It may have started out a bit slow but over the last year the region has been going from strength to strength. And as for 2017 – who knows?

Escape Room Rumours – 23 January 2017

news-spiral

Welcome to another escape room rumour roundup. This site is always on the look out for new games or venues that are opening, references in the media or anything else that might be of interest to the readers, so please do send an email if you spot anything of interest. That applies to owner too – feel free to send me your news for inclusion here. Don’t be shy!

On to the news

The new year appears to finally be getting going!

  • East Midlands
  • West Midlands
  • South East England
    • Bournemouth already has five rooms across three venues but that’s obviously not enough as Ouija Bournemouth have now joined the fray. By the looks of it, they’ve managed to sneak under the radar and open before this site even noticed.
    • Margate is no stranger to escape rooms, but they’ll soon have a permanent one as Escapology Kent are set to launch in the town. No details on rooms or opening dates yet – watch this space.
  • London
    • The poup escape room at the Vault Festival, Houdini’s Last Trick by Escapemobile, is opening this week.
  • Yorkshire and the Humber
    • Project Breakout, a new escape room based in Brighouse near Huddersfield, launched their site with plans to open their doors next month.
    • The Great Escape (Sheffield and now Leeds) appeared in the Sunday Times talking about the perils of outside investment and their desire to make their own way.
  • Ireland
    • Across the UK, a few locations are starting to open up VR escape rooms. Well, over in Ireland they’re opening up the first dedicated example with Escape VR Dublin which launched at the weekend.
    • But that isn’t the most unusual thing to happen in the Dublin scene recently. Escape Boats were featured across the media last week. They’ve bought an old Dutch barge which they’re planning on converting into escape rooms. Escape rooms in a van are so passé.
  • East of England
    • Escape Peterborough is opening its doors this week with three new games. Taken is an Escape stalwart, while 221B Baker Street has only appeared in Hull before.  The really exciting part is Witchcraft and Wizardry – a brand new game from the Escape franchise.
  • Other
    • Xscape Now in Telford launch this week with their first game being Baker Street Mystery.

That’s all I’m aware of. If any of the above is incorrect or if you’re aware of other news, discounts or competitions, then let me know via email or in the comments below and I’ll include updates in the next edition.

Thanks for reading!

Escape Room Rumours – 16 January 2017

news-spiral

Welcome to another escape room rumour roundup. This site is always on the look out for new games or venues that are opening, references in the media or anything else that might be of interest to the readers, so please do send an email if you spot anything of interest. That applies to owner too – feel free to send me your news for inclusion here. Don’t be shy!

On to the news

An exceedingly quiet week with only a couple of pieces of news:

  • National
    • The Great Escape Unconference took place last week in London. No blog on the events but you can see what was up for discussion here.
    • Confirmation that Exit: The Game will be being released in the UK. Watch out for more new after the London toy fair.
  • East of England
    • Escape Peterborough have appeared on the internet with games opening in late January.
    • Looks like Escape Ipswich is coming online with a planning application being submitted and an article in the local paper.

That’s all I’m aware of. If any of the above is incorrect or if you’re aware of other news, discounts or competitions, then let me know via email or in the comments below and I’ll include updates in the next edition.

Thanks for reading!

Looking ahead to 2017: predictions for the year

Peering into a Crystal Ball

This site ran prediction features over the last three years, albeit penned (so to speak) by a different author, with varying levels of success. Time for this new author to put a stake in the ground so that in a year’s time we can look back and laugh at his naivety. It’s always hard to predict the future and even harder to put some level of certainty on those predictions but the following predictions are based on things that fall somewhere in the 50-75% likelihood range.

Prediction: Escape rooms will appear in more than half of the following locations:

  • In Scotland: Falkirk, Stirling.
  • In England: Basingstoke, Bolton, Carlisle, Cheltenham, Colchester, Luton, Northampton, Shrewsbury, Stratford-upon-Avon.
  • In Wales: Bridgend.
  • In NI: Derry.
  • In Ireland: Limerick

At this stage, there are very, very few obvious gaps in the UK market. This site is aware of possible companies starting up in three of the above locations, but the rest have no activity.

Prediction: Escape rooms will appear on a UK made soap opera or equivalent.

We’ve seen them appear on The Big Bang Theory, The Middle and various other US shows but it feels like they’ve become mainstream enough in the UK that they’ll appear in some context on a nationally-aired soap.

Prediction: Escape rooms will appear on a UK made nationally broadcast reality TV show.

There are plenty of UK escape room companies looking to expand rapidly and what better way than to get themselves into the limelight via reality TV? There are any numbers of ways that could happen but a few that spring to mind:

  • The Apprentice: Creating their own pop up escape room would be a great set of property/production/marketing challenges with the opportunity to laugh at contestants for coming up with outlandish ideas or not understanding the solution to simple puzzles.
  • Dragon’s Den: Plenty of companies are looking to expand rapidly so perhaps one of the smaller players in the market will look for seed funding and a fair amount of exposure?
  • TOWIE or similar: Want to see human interactions at their worst? Then throw people who don’t get on well into an escape room.

Prediction: A new escape-room-like venue will be announced in the UK similar to Boda Borg, the Crystal Maze or GoQuest.

Boda Borg’s recent expansion to Boston is proving popular while the Crystal Maze has shot to success in London and has a new location opening in Manchester. It seems almost inevitable that a company such as Boda Borg will attempt to expand into the UK.

Prediction: At least four overseas franchises not currently in the UK and Ireland will open a room.

It’s hard to predict which companies might find these shores attractive, but it feels like that at least a couple of the Russian franchises will choose to target the UK and Escape Hunt making a reappearance seems almost inevitable given its recent acquisition by a UK-based holding company. Perhaps SCRAP will see fit to bring one of their games across from the US or one of the other major US players will put some feelers out on this side of the Atlantic (where Escapology from Florida seems like a good bet).

Prediction: At least one theme park operator will open a permanent escape room

We’ve had a couple of Hallowe’en escape rooms open in the past in Alton Towers and Thorpe Park but this year feels like the one where they’ll go mainstream enough to open a permanent attraction.

Prediction: At least one company will have 50 rooms running across the UK and Ireland by the end of the year

Escape currently have 30, Clue HQ are on 28, Locked in a Room have 21 and The Escape Room have 19. It seems just possible that one of those (or maybe as a long shot, Escape Reality?) will open enough venues to pull themselves across the line.

Prediction: At least 50 venues will close in 2016

It can’t all be happy news, not that all closures are necessarily unhappy. We’ve seen around 20 venues shut their doors in 2016 but as the market hots up and the big players start throwing their weight around, this site expects to see a few companies decide to close the doors. Some will be sudden closures but I expect a fair number to just see out the end of their leases and then call it a day.

Prediction: At least ten new play-at-home escape rooms will launch and be available in the UK

With ThinkFun’s offerings proving reasonably successful and various other companies getting in on the act in 2016, it feels likely that the trend will expand in 2017 with new versions from the existing companies but also brand new companies piggy backing off the existing success.

Prediction: At least 100 people will gather for an escape game industry related event

Specifically, not an escape room experience but some sort of event that is aimed at owners and enthusiasts – a conference or unconference or just some sort of fun meet up. The UK unconference in London in July of last year saw around 50 people gather and next week’s looks likely to have around 70 so, assuming expansion continues and a suitable venue can be found, it seems reasonable to assume the industry can bring together 100 people.

And finally the big one:

Prediction: At some point during 2017, 1000 escape rooms will be open across the UK and Ireland.

1000 escape rooms across the UK and Ireland. Yes, One thousand. Last year saw the market more than double. I think we’ll see a similar level of new rooms opening but I think we’ll also see a huge number of rooms closing with the result that we’ll just scrape over the line in the last quarter. I don’t think the market will quite have peaked and I certainly don’t expect the bubble to burst. Sadly, for enthusiasts, I suspect a significant proportion of those games will be franchises expanding across the countries so there won’t be anything like as many as 1000 experiences. Perhaps “just” 700?

Escape Room Rumours – 9 January 2017

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Happy New Year and welcome to the first 2017 installment of the UK and Irish escape game rumours. This site is always on the look out for new games or venues that are opening, references in the media or anything else that might be of interest to the readers, so please do send an email if you spot anything of interest. That applies to owner too – feel free to send me your news for inclusion here. Don’t be shy!

On to the news

Things have understandably been quiet over Christmas but they’re just starting to wake up again:

  • National/International
    • In case you haven’t heard, President Obama played an escape room in Hawaii on Christmas Eve.
    • I came across this interesting blog post from the University of Southampton about creating an escape room in an educational setting.
    • No idea where in the country but the Escape Legends site popped on to my radar. Anyone know more?
    • Escape rooms in another educational setting as part of a medical conference in Gloucester.
  • West Midlands
    • Escape Stoke are launching on 27 January with two copies of the brand’s Da Vinci game. That’s just the beginning – in the next few months they plan to bring EMCU Trials, Area 51 and Taken to the area.
  • South East England
    • Escape Hub‘s website popped very briefly on the web.  Long enough to find out that it’s due to be opening in Maidstone, Kent.
  • South West England
  • North West England
  • East of England

That’s all folks

That’s all I’m aware of. If any of the above is incorrect or if you’re aware of other news, discounts or competitions, then let me know via email or in the comments below and I’ll include updates in the next edition.

Thanks for reading!

Looking back on 2016: predictions for the year

Peering into a Crystal Ball

In early January of 2016, this site posted an article predicting what would happen in 2016. It didn’t attempt to predict the results of the referendum or the US presidential election but it did talk about puzzling and escape rooms. Since then, Chris, who ran the site at the time has moved on to exexitgames.co.uk but that doesn’t stop us taking a look at how those predictions panned out. Since the site has taken a fairly firm focus on escape games since his departure, this article looks at the escape side of those predictions.

Prediction: “This site will become aware of more than 51 exit game openings in the UK and Ireland in 2016.”

Actual: In case you were in any doubt, this prediction came true. In much the same way as “Leicester City won’t be relegated from the Premiership” came true last season. On 1 January 2015 there were, to this site’s knowledge, 103 venues across the UK and Ireland. As 2016 draws to a close there are now 238 venues open. All in all, there were 152 venue openings in 2016 – almost exactly three times the prediction. Wow!

Prediction: “This site will become aware of more than 13 exit game closures in the UK and Ireland.”

Actual:  A total of 16 escape rooms closed in 2016, although (as the prediction made clear) it’s not always lack of business that prompts the shutters to come down. In fact, since this site is often asked why escape room closure occur, it’s worth going into a bit more detail.

  • 1 owner emigrated (Fathom Escape)
  • 1 lease expired (Enter the Oubliette)
  • 4 temporary hiatus – expected to re-open (Clockwork DogClue CrackerEnd GameTime Trap Escape)
  • 4 planned closures – game was temporary (A Curious Escape, Hide and Shriek, Code-X, Milestones Museum)
  • 6 permanent closures – reason unclear (Hidden Rooms London, The Lock and Key, Dr. Knox’s Enigma, EVAC, Sherlock Unlock, A Great Escape)

Prediction:  “At least one brand will have at least nine locations open in the UK and Ireland in 2016.

Actual: Achieved. In fact, two separate brands made it to nine locations:

  • Clue HQ with nine locations in: Warrington, Brentwood, Blackpool, Sunderland, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Leicester and Coventry
  • Escape with eleven locations in: Glasgow, Edinburgh (two), Blackpool, Hull, Doncaster, London, Chester (Escapism), Livingston, Newcastle and Dublin. Even if you argue that Escapism is branded separately and Edinburgh is just a single location that’s still a healthy nine.

For the record, no other company made it past five locations.

Prediction: “Crowdfunding will get harder; no reasonably traditional exit game based in the UK or Ireland will attract more than £5,000 in funding in 2016 unless the people behind it have an established track record in this or another closely related industry.

Actual: Several companies launched crowdfunding campaigns this year with varying degrees of success but this site couldn’t have seen Hugo Myatt on the horizon which helped catapult Bewilder Box’s campaign to £5216, just breaking the prediction.

Prediction: “At least one exit game will open in 2016 within eight miles of the main train station in at least four of the seven following locations: Reading, Portsmouth, Milton Keynes, Hull, Middlesbrough, Coventry and Peterborough.”

Actual: Well, given that the prediction for the number of new escape rooms opening was beaten by a factor of three, it’s perhaps not surprising that this prediction was also beaten, and some! In fact, of the seven locations suggested only one of them failed to open two venues and, even there addresses have been confirmed for a couple more that would fall inside the eight mile radius specified in the predictions.

Prediction:  “The exit game industry will continue to grow sufficiently quickly that this site’s estimate for the number of unique players in the UK or Ireland by the end of December 2015 reaches or exceeds 750,000.”

Actual: This site has stopped making predictions but it’s safe to say that this has been beaten unless the slots at all these additional venues are being filled by experienced players!

Prediction: “There will be a meeting in the UK or Ireland in 2016 with exit games as its focus which attracts more than 50 attendees.”

Actual: The biggest meeting, to this site’s knowledge, was in London with just under 50 participants. Within a couple of weeks of the new year, this site is confident that the 50 will be achieved with the unconference in London.

Prediction: “This site will become aware of someone that it does not already know at the time of making this prediction running an exit game for friends and family on an amateur basis within the UK and Ireland in 2016 using something more elaborate than, say, a Breakout EDU kit or similar.”

Actual: No one that this site is aware of but it would be great to hear otherwise.

Prediction: “This site loves stories of marriage proposals taking place at exit games and there have been at least ten customer proposals on record. A more interesting prediction is that by the end of 2016, this site will become aware of at least one proposal between a couple who got to know each other by both working at the same exit game.”

Actual: Escape game staff couples definitely exist – this site isn’t aware of any proposals but would love to be contradicted!

Prediction: “Some company may bring larger-scale live escape events to the UK, with relatively many teams playing the same game at once. (This is inspired by SCRAP’s Real Escape Game events playing in France and Spain as well as other continents, and is surely slightly more likely than last year.)”

Actual: Sort of. Locked in a Room opened up in London with up to 8 teams playing the same game in parallel. That isn’t quite like SCRAP but, under the letter of the law, it probably meets the above prediction.

Prediction: “An exit game brand in the UK and Ireland may take over at least one other existing game, or maybe even another exit game brand altogether.”

Actual: This looked like a possibility with both A Great Escape in Milton Keynes and Enter the Oubliette in London closing their doors but neither appear to have sold on their game to another company (STOP PRESS: There’s a strong hint on A Great Escape’s site that a sale may have taken place!). When Escape Land in London shut up shop, Hidden Rooms took on some of their IP but since then the roles have reversed with Escape Land re-opening and Hidden Rooms closing their doors for good.

Prediction: “There may be some interactive transmedia storytelling (or an Alternate Reality Game, as people called them a decade and a bit ago) to promote a new exit game or a new room at an exit game.”

Actual: Sadly no, as far as this site is aware.

Prediction: “This site may become aware of an Irish exit game community.”

Actual: Still none that this site is aware of.

Prediction: “Someone might start an overtly humorous blog about the genre in the UK and Ireland: two-thirds serious content, one-third shtick.”

Actual: Not that this site is aware of.

Prediction: “Someone might start an attraction just north of Heathrow called The Crystal Hayes or in South Essex called The Crystal Grays.”

Actual: Again, sadly not. We’ll have to make do with the Bristol Maze.

Locked in Leeds and beyond

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It seems like only last week we were looking at new venues in Yorkshire and the Humber but already there are four new companies to tell you about, spanning Scunthorpe, Sheffield and Leeds. That area forms a rough triangle around Doncaster, a triangle which, with the advent of these new ventures is packed full of games. It’s great to see Yorkshire thriving after a brief blip late last year that saw the closure of seven games at four different venues in just five months. Let’s not dwell on closures, though, and instead rejoice in recent openings:

1) Look Key Escape opened up in Leeds in early November with a single game, Murder Motel, although plans are are already in place to open up a second game Escape from Wonderland.

In Murder Motel, you run a down trodden motel situated on Route 70 on the outskirts of Pittsburg, Kansas. People come and go. Some use it as a pit stop as they head to better things. Some stay far longer than they had ever expected. Sam has been renting room 130 for some time now. He keeps himself to himself but that’s the way you prefer it. Recently he has caught your attention. His rent hasn’t been paid for over a month and he has been keeping unsociable hours, disappearing for days on end, hiding in the shadows and bringing young girls back to his room late at night. Enough is enough. You decide to investigate, letting yourself into his room one night just after you see him leave.But do you really want to discover the secrets that are hidden inside room 130?

2) Open the Door is the first UK toehold for an established international franchise with operations in Poland, Austria and, soon, Ethiopia. Their doors first opened in Scunthorpe in early December, bringing us two new games Sherwood and Prison. Unfortuantely, that’s about as much as I can tell you – the games don’t have a description on the website and so the reader is left to conjecture based on the photographs where Sherwood does indeed seem to refer to Sherwood Forest and Prison likely has you locked behind bars.

3) It’s not often that this site finds an escape room with a seemingly unique theme so it’s doubly surprising to find one where that theme isn’t just at the room level but is part of the brand name. Voodoo Escape Rooms certainly seems to fit the bill though. Indeed, the only other example of a company that’s tied the theme so heavily into their trading name is up in Whitley Bay where there’s the Pirate Escape Room.

Again, there’s not much information about the room on the website but I can tell you one more thing: it appears you can also have a drink after your game with the Voodoo Bar being located onsite.

4) Those readers that are already familiar with the local escape room scene will likely be aware of the Great Escape Game in Sheffield which opened in 2014 and now boasts four different rooms. The good news is that they’ve expanded to Leeds, still calling themselves The Great Escape Game, and launched three brand new games: King Arthur’s Secret, The Devil’s Playground and The Underworld. The website even hints at plans for a couple more games – watch this space!

In King Arthur’s Seat, following King Arthur’s death, the banner which held the United Kingdoms together has all but vanished. Houses of the North, South, East and West battle in a constant struggle for power, causing reckless destruction of everything we hold dear. The North is set to storm the capital, beginning what only can be imagined as centuries of needless war and devastation. However, there is just one glimmer of hope. To find a new King of England and reunite the seven kingdoms under one true leader. Legends speak of secret chambers built into King Arthur’s Castle, riddled with mysteries and guarded by Merlin’s magic. It is said that when the time comes to pass, the secrets of King Arthur’s castle will only speak to the worthy, the one who has what it takes to become the King of England. This is where your journey begins, brave adventurer. Here, deep in the heart of King Arthur’s castle… 

In the Devil’s Playground, you are his new toys. Driven by the desperation of your desires, you find yourself trying to beat The Devil at his own game. After having your soul trapped inside the very mirror you have used to summon him, you find yourself in the Devil’s waiting lobby, the elevator to hell, you discover that you are not alone. Instead, you are surrounded by his other contestants, enslaved to the game of sacrifice. You must work together to outsmart the Devil’s torments, traps and trickery as you play a game for the ultimate price, the game of sacrifice. The Devil has taken the liberty of possessing your body for the next hour. The consequence; he is perfectly capable of stirring up plenty of trouble in that time. At the end of the hour, The Devil will either leave your body or claim your soul. What he does with it, nobody knows… Yet.

In Underworld Conspiracy, you and your team of adventurers are on the brink of unearthing secrets of unimaginable power. Mysteries, which for nearly 1,000 years a clandestine powerful elite known as the New World Order have been searching for. The N.W.O has created a blueprint for world domination, with the goal of bringing the entire world to it’s knees. You now know the location of the missing object, lost deep in the depths of the underworld. You set out pursuing adventure, but this time the adventure really has found you. You have a head start, but time is slipping through your fingertips. This is where our story ends and your adventure begins. Can you enter The Underworld and retrieve it’s secrets before it is too late?

And there you have it – four new venues and seven new games. What better Christmas present?