Good news for the end of November

"Good News for a change!" - adapted from Rick Warden, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 licence

Adapted from an image by Rick Warden, released under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 licence,
originally created using a Flickr Commons non-copyrighted archival photo

Never enough good news stories. Never, ever enough of them.

  • Congratulations to Sofija and Artur who recently became engaged at Locked In Edinburgh; the story even made it onto STV! If you’re in the UK, you can enjoy the couple’s moment by watching a later part of this episode of The Fountainbridge Show within the next 30 days – and aired on St. Andrew’s Day, no less! This is the ninth UK exit game proposal of which this site is aware; this is the point at which these stories will continue to be joyously celebrated, but perhaps no longer counted.
  • On the subject of TV, Nick Gates of Bother’s Bar passes on a suggestion that Race to Escape is due to be broadcast in the UK, on our version of the Discovery channel, available on Sky and Virgin. A few months ago this site discussed covert ways to watch the show but this will be much more convenient, as well as – ahem – legal. This site considers it a varied, imaginative and entertaining show, though criticisms that it requires (and thus risks encouraging) horrible behaviour from exit game players do have a point.
  • Still on the subject of TV, though here it’s TV inspiring live games rather than the other way around, the live The Crystal Maze attraction is whirring into life with Indiegogo backers being able to select their tickets today and sales surely being opened up to the rest of the world very soon. With so many booking options sold during the campaign and literally thousands of people booking tickets, the booking process appears to have been a little bumpy in patches, but only a little and largely quickly resolved.
  • It’s been a bumper year for Rubik’s cube speed-solving records. Back in May, Collin Burns clocked a 5.25 second solve of a standard 3x3x3 cube to break a World Record that had lasted two years; on 21st November, Keaton Ellis improved on this with a 5.09 second solve, a new World Record. Unfortunately Keaton may go down in history alongside legendarily transient record-holder Olga Rukavishnikova, for his landmark achievement was overshadowed only about an hour or so later when Lucas Etter clocked a 4.904 to break the five-second barrier. Far better to have been the fastest that the world has ever known, even if only briefly, than never to have held the crown at all.
  • On the subject of records and prizes, Escape Manor in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, have announced on their Facebook that they’re holding an exit game design contest with a buxom prize pool of six thousand Canadian dollars; five finalists will be selected to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges. “The top 3 contestants will be awarded a cash prize and a chance to help have their room developed at one of the Escape Manor locations!” This site contacted Escape Manor for comment, which has not yet been returned, as to whether entrants have to be Canadian and whether it might be possible for a finalist to pitch by videoconference should travelling to pitch in person be uneconomic. At the very last, perhaps it’s a model for design contests in the future.
  • A less geographically constrained, less competitive endeavour is the forthcoming Breakout EDU game jam on 9th-10th January 2016. Breakout EDU is a standard collection of equipment intended to help people create classroom games with something of the exit game nature to them – though normally breaking into a box, rather than breaking through a locked exit door. The standardisation of the platform means that if you design a game, anyone around the world will be able to play it; there aren’t many games available in this way yet, but this event will hopefully get people creating – and then using the created games. While the tools may be relatively frequently found, there’s no limit to the puzzles and ingenuity that might surround them; you can create games for four- and six- year olds, or anywhere up the scale to being for adults. Get designing games wherever you like, but the focus on one weekend will inspire physical events at which many people with a common goal can get together to get creating. Exciting times, and – again – perhaps a model for another part of the future!

Now open in Birmingham: Panic!

panicConventional wisdom tends to downplay the importance of providing a tangible reward for those who excel when solving an exit game. The prospect of there being a physical prize, rather than just satisfaction, may bring out people’s less enlightened natures and may lead to the risk of bad feeling from players if they feel that they were at all slighted and did not have a fair chance of winning for reasons outside their control.

The great thing about conventional wisdom is that it’s OK to ignore it – and, if you do, better go big or go home. Firmly going big in this regard is Twisted AttractionsPanic! of Birmingham, an exit game with a strictly limited duration; it only opens on Fridays and Saturdays from June 5th to September 19th. They will also be paying out a £1,000 prize to the champion team over the course of their three-and-a-half-month run. That makes it a one-of-a-kind exit game on its own.

The other way in which it’s completely distinctive is that it is, first and foremost, a scare attraction. “An experience like no other, as you go to investigate a series of missing persons cases which has lead you to this twisted warehouse of traps! Things turn drastically wrong as YOU and YOUR friends fall victim and soon become “The Game”. You have exactly 1 hour to escape. This will take brains and nerve to complete.” Teams are of 6-8, smaller teams may be merged with other, larger ones, and tickets are £18 per player, plus £1 per player booking fee.

You don’t see many exit games where the web site suggests “From the moment you arrive, even before you have presented your ticket, you are a part of the experience. This means that actors MAY/WILL interact with you.” Different horror attractions have different levels of tactility, and another part of the site suggests a rule that “There is to be NO touching of any of the actors, sets or props inside the attraction but actors may touch you.” The terms and conditions also set expectations for what sorts of scares are to be expected. “You will experience intense audio, lighting, automated motion, extremely low visibility, strobe lighting, fog, damp/wet conditions, special effects, sudden actions and overall physically demanding environment.” Official comments on Facebook hint that the wet conditions might go more than ankle deep, so consider bringing spare footwear, socks and maybe more. (Safe storage is available.)

There’s also information about the way the competition will work, and it looks sensible. “Any person/group deemed to be cheating will be INSTANTLY DISQUALIFIED. That also includes informing other groups of the combinations/answers to puzzles. In retrospect to the combinations and answers, these will be changed at regular intervals and the same combinations/answer will not be used twice. ((…)) Guests directly related or associated with staff working in the attraction will not be eligible for the prize fund, however are entitled to experience the attraction at a discounted rate. ((…)) An individual can only compete ONCE. If a team contains one or more contestants who have competed before, the WHOLE team will NOT be eligible for the prize fund“.

You know whether you like scare attractions or not. (Here, that’s a firm “no”.) You may well want to look on scare attraction web sites for reviews and comparisons to other events you might have attended. Nevertheless, the people behind Panic! have a strong track record, as discussed in this article in the Birmingham Mail. That article also has a gallery (as does this follow-up piece) and a video. Lots of big red buttons to push; this site wouldn’t dare.

A very welcome addition to the line-up of exit games in the UK, even if it’s one that this site will appreciate from many ten-foot bargepoles afar.

Competition compendium

Competition rosettesA comment on a recent post requested more coverage of deals that might be available. Entirely reasonable shout. Clue HQ have announced that the second game at their Blackpool location will be available from May 22nd and have announced that groups to booking it using code LAB38 can do so at a price of just £50, regardless of team size. (No clue how long this code will last.) Clue HQ are also taunting the world with this image, speculated to be – among other guesses – possible details of a fourth game at their Warrington home base.

The only other hint of a deal that springs to mind relates to potential players at a new site in the north of Scotland; more on that very soon, hopefully. Other than that, this site has news of competitions to win free games; not the same thing as deals, but not a million miles away. Every month, Crack The Code Sheffield hold a monthly giveaway which you can enter by sharing their Instagram image, appropriately tagged. Winners will be announced on May 15th so you haven’t got long to do so.

The Play Exit Games site, which does a quicker job of reporting on new openings than this site (and which has a clustered map of which this site is sorely jealous), has a competition offering tickets for Hidden Rooms London, due to launch on June 1st. (It’s a good route to gain publicity; this site hopes to be able to report on more competitions at Play Exit Games before long.)

Similarly, The Gr8 Escape of Belfast have announced a competition on their Facebook offering not just a free ticket but a VIP experience as a prize, with champagne and nibbles as well as a free game on offer. Exciting times and you have a real chance of winning.

Taking competition a little more loosely, here’s a competition that isn’t held between players where the reward is offered by the exit games, but is a competition between exit games where the players offer the reward… sort of. Specifically, Escape Game Paris are operating their Escape Game Awards 2015, looking to crown winners in six categories: best room overall, best room gameplay, best room decoration, best site overall, best site game masters and best online presence. Already, within a very short period of time, they have attracted over a hundred votes, so clearly the exit games have got well and truly behind it. Presumably the winners then go on to a tricky tie against the champions of Istanbul in the exit games Champions’ League that someone will inevitably launch some day.

Speaking of which, for no link is too tenuous, this site has a favourite footballer: Daley Blind of Manchester United. Daley has won this accolade by being pictured both here at Escape Newcastle and here at The Escape Room in Manchester. Perhaps there are other contenders to the throne; who’s to say that, say, Graeme Le Saux hasn’t used his retirement to marathon five sites in London? This is a title to be won on the weight of evidence!

((Edited to add: On the same day this article is posted, Daley Blind has gone back for at least his second game at The Escape Room, so there’s no way that he isn’t a fan, and pretty much all the Manchester City under-21s had a big booking at Breakout Manchester.))

Early November 2014 Dealwatch: coupons and discounts to play escape games for less

Price tag suggesting deal, sale or bargainThe usual Dealwatch rules remain in operation:

  • Do check voucher companies’ terms, conditions and guarantees and this site takes no responsibility for deals that fall through for whatever reason, which sadly did happen once;
  • Many of these deals only permit a limited number of vouchers to be purchased and then the deal will expire. It’s quite possible that deals may have expired between being published below and your attempt to use them;
  • This non-commercial site does not attract any commission for promoting these deals, or for you using them;
  • These deals are not exclusive in any manner.

ESCAP3D‘s Dublin location have a LivingSocial deal available for another week, or until all the vouchers sell out. Teams of six can play for €39 rather than the full price of €80. The voucher is only valid for new customers, and between 1:30pm and 6pm on Mondays to Saturdays. A cancellation/re-scheduling policy of 48 hours applies. How do you pronounce ESCAP3D, by the way? This site always thought it was a stylistic form of “escaped”, but it could just as easily be “escape-three-d”.

Last Dealwatch, this site described a Groupon deal placed by The Gr8 Escape of Belfast. While that’s history now, the site has a Facebook offer available for another month, offering 25% off if you’re booking either of its two Christmas-themed rooms to play after 5pm. The site has also revealed its future plans: “Winter wonderland – a froz3n surprise will hopefully be available in mid December, it will be a two room challenge designed to be easy enough for 7-11 year olds to complete within 45 minutes.” That’s extremely distinctive and very, very cool. If a major chunk of the long-term future of exit games is to cater for the birthday market, which it might well be, this seems like the state of the art.

Puzzlair of Bristol recently posted about their latest discount, supporting Bristol Handball. Follow the Bristol Handball Twitter account and book using the HANDBALL code for 10% off. (Handball is a fine game; much more fun to watch handball on Eurosport 2 than basketball on Eurosport, er, 1.) Puzzlair also have a a Christmas coupon scheme going, where you can exactly personalise the wording on your gift to whatever you think its recipients would most enjoy. No lunar porcine involvement is required.

Escape Hunt of London are promoting the Escape Hunt Challenge; book to play all three of its rooms and get a 20% discount. Beat all three rooms and win a limited edition T-shirt as well!

There are still some deals announced last time that are ongoing. GR8escape York have a code letting the first 30 teams to book play for just £30, and Escape Quest of Macclesfield’s social media competition is running for just a few more days, finishing well before (and announcing the winner of a free game in good time for) the site’s big launch on November 19th. Locked In Games of Leeds have two unsettling rooms, an even creepier new teaser video and a code of lockedinnovember to be entered at the checkout stage for £30/team games all through November… if you dare!

Late October 2014 Dealwatch: coupons and discounts to play exit games for less

"SAVE NOW" graphicThe usual Dealwatch rules are in operation:

  • Do check voucher companies’ terms, conditions and guarantees and this site takes no responsibility for deals that fall through for whatever reason, as, sadly, has actually happened;
  • Many of these deals only permit a limited number of vouchers to be purchased and then the deal will expire. It’s quite possible that deals may have expired between being published below and your attempt to use them;
  • This non-commercial site does not attract any commission for promoting these deals, or for you using them;
  • These deals are not exclusive in any manner.

The Gr8 Escape of Belfast have a Groupon voucher that will apply for their two Christmas-themed games, Snow Way Out and Santa’s Work (It Out) Shop. Games will be available from the 1st to the 23rd and from the 26th to 28th. Groups of up to six can play for £42 and groups of up to eight for £49 and fancy dress is encouraged.

If you act quickly, you can get a special deal at XIT of Dublin. Their new game, Curse of the Mummy opens very shortly; if you book in October – and there’s not much of it left – to play in November, your group need pay only €59 rather than the usual €79.

Talking of new openings, the opening deals at GR8escape York and Locked In Games of Leeds and are still available, each permitting teams to play for just £30. GR8escape York opened on Monday and limits its opening deal to the first 30 teams to book; Locked In Games opens very shortly and the opening deal will last all November.

Also in the North, Escape Newcastle is set to open on Saturday 1st November, as previously discussed. This site cannot yet find an opening discount for it, but both Escape Edinburgh and Escape Glasgow had them, so keep an eye out. If the site proves as popular and well-reviewed as its Scottish predecessors, it’ll be something quite special.

In other pre-opening news, Escape Quest of Macclesfield have a competition up and running. The site opens on November 19th; if you can help either (or both!) of their social media campaigns out before November 13th then your team might be the one drawn to play a free game!

Cyantist of Bournemouth have a couple of deals ongoing, either for those who have ever hosted guests using the Couchsurfing service or for those who buy tickets for their friends. The site also, unusually, features a free ten-minute online game to give you a feeling for what sort of things might await you. Clever idea!

October 2014 Dealwatch: coupons and discounts to play exit games for less

Green and black "SAVE" star logoIt might be wise to think of Dealwatch as officially no longer a “once per month” event, but more when there are sufficiently many and/or interesting deals to justify there being a post. This month, there are a couple of competitions worth mentioning as well with free games as prizes. The usual rules are in operation:

  • Terms and conditions doubtless apply and this site takes no responsibility for deals that fall through for whatever reason. These are not exclusive in any shape or form;
  • Many of these deals only permit a limited number of vouchers to be purchased and then the deal will expire. It’s quite possible that deals may expire between being published below and your attempt to use them;
  • This site does not attract any commission, whether you click through and purchase the deals or not.

Puzzlair of Bristol have a LivingSocial voucher operational right now. Choose between a £30 voucher for three, a £36 voucher for four and a £40 voucher for five. A cancellation/re-scheduling policy of 72 hours applies and the voucher is subject to forfeiture. Any vouchers must be enjoyed by Sunday 18th January, 2015.

Bath Escape of Bath have an eBay deal operational right now. This is selling ten vouchers to play its Haunted House escape room for £50 instead of the usual £78. However, these vouchers are only valid between 11am and 9pm on Tuesday to Friday; weekend games are excluded and the site closes on Mondays. You must arrive 15 minutes before the booked game time, and Bath Escape’s usual bonus birthday cake if someone is celebrating on the day does not apply.

The Great Escape Game of Sheffield is a site not previously mentioned and has not yet opened; bookings are not yet available, but the site may open in the middle of the month. Promotional ticket prices are 5 players for £70, 4 players for £60 and 3 players for £48, but sign up on their site for 10% off your first booking. Bear in mind that games are run to a 45 minute time limit rather than the frequent hour deadline.

Can You Escape? of Edinburgh are also not yet open, but their social media are ramping back up once more. Cleverly, they have tweeted that they will be “giving away #freetickets for our VIP week to the first person who guesses our location”. If you like an exit game, you’ll likely like a treasure hunt as well, so this promotion may well hit the spot, and further clues are eagerly awaited.

The Gr8 Escape of Belfast also have a competition on social media. Much as they are running a Hallowe’en-themed room this month, they will be running a Christmas-themed room in December, and they have made a Facebook post calling for suggestions for a name for it. The suggestion with most “Like”s by the end of the month wins. Surely a cunning way to attract attention!

Lock and LOL of London posted to this site’s Facebook page (!! – but it’s a good way of doing it, and certainly welcome) that if you use the code “SHERLOCKED” you can book their Moriarty’s Laboratory game for £49.75 instead of £199 for a group of up to 5 people. It’s not clear how long this discount code will be valid for, but it’s worth a try.

As usual, if you know of other coupons, deals, vouchers or competitions, please send them through. If your site has a offer not listed above, please don’t assume the worst; get in touch and this site will happily spread the good news. (Alternatively, if you would prefer that this site does not list your coupon, or if the details of the offer are mangled, that’s fine too; again, please get in touch.)