This weekend

Red "Coming Soon!" ink stampThree very interesting and rather varied events coming up this weekend. It’s an exciting time!

1) The Intervirals blog reminds the world that Friday 4th September sees the first known Escape Games Convention taking place in Stuttgart, Germany. After a welcome dinner tomorrow night, the day features workshops, speeches and networking. Tickets are still available, and if you want to learn a load of best practice in the course of a single day then there’s no better way to do so; the rest of the world can follow the action remotely via the Twitter hashtag #EGC15 ((UPDATED, 04/09/15)) and Intervirals has already done much of the hard work for the rest of us. Looking forward to following the action!

2) In London, there’s a very exciting-looking event called Now Play This happening on Friday 4th, Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th September, at Somerset House’s New Wing.

Over the weekend we’ll be home to dozens of games and playful activities of all descriptions – from a wooden pinball machine to a soundscape in a tent; from unreleased video games to a papercraft workshop. ((…)) On Friday we have a special focus on game design – come along for a first glimpse at some upcoming games, and join us for lightning talks from designers and players throughout the afternoon. On Saturday it’s all about playing, with a packed schedule of games set alongside the exhibition. And Sunday is a day of experimentation, with a showcase of strange interfaces in the morning and workshops all afternoon long.

Tickets are available from the Somerset House website, at £5 for a morning or afternoon ticket for a particular day, or £12 to return as often as you like across the weekend. Families are welcome, though not all games are suitable for children.” One of the attractions will be Pint-Sized Puzzles to pick up and play at your leisure – to be fair, it’s not the biggest or most original attraction in the world, but something to tickle if you were going to be there already – and I shall be available to give hints at lunchtime on Saturday. Do say “Hi!”

3) If you prefer your puzzles a little more competitive, then this weekend sees the annual online US Puzzle Championship, which runs (with no charge for participation) from 6pm to 8:30pm, UK time, on Saturday 5th September. You’ll have two and a half hours to score as many points as you can by solving an assortment of logical, word and picture puzzles, probably with slightly more to choose from than even the best puzzler in the world could solve within the time limit. On Friday, you’ll be able to download the preview instructions and find out what sorts of puzzles will be available for you to face this year, so that you might form your plan of attack. The puzzles vary in difficulty but the test is intended to select some of the US team for the World Puzzle Championship, so they are very much in line with the levels of difficulty you get at the Big Dance. Always a hard test, but always a great test!

News round-up: convention, DASH 7 video and sudoku championships

News round-upLots going on at the moment. Normally this would be three separate posts, but there’s so much else to write about!

1) This site recently mentioned the Escape Games Convention in Stuttgart, Germany on 4th September. Katharina Wulf of co-hosts ExitVentures (who are apparently putting together a printed German-language magazine) wrote on a forum as follows:

We (as the oragnizing team) are trying to make it valuable to come for English speaking people as well. Here some information in English: One highlight will be the talk of Attila Gyurkovics. He is the first operator of live escape games in Europe with ParaPark (Budapest) and the first one who developed live escape games on the basis of flow theory. Attila Gyurkovics will talk about his experience and his future visions. Prof. Nicholson (Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada) will give scientific insights into the field and an overview over the North American market via video message.

((…)) In addition there will be some workshops focusing on following topics: “Live escape games next level” (about innovative new room concepts) and “Live escape games association” (about the creation of common structures for the industry in Germany). ((…)) The video message from Prof. Nicholson and the speech from Attila Gyurkovics will be in English. Beside that we will offer the workshops in English, too. Furthermore we will be able to provide you with information in English for the other agenda items. In the session the participants will elaborate relevant topics in small groups. This can be realized in German or English.

It’s looking ever more tempting, especially for us non-German-speakers!

2) The UK Puzzle Association are running their annual UK Sudoku Championship online this weekend. Start after midday on Thursday, up until the end of Monday, and you have a two-hour window of your choice to score points by solving the 17 sudoku and sudoku variant puzzles. The top two finishers will earn places on the UK team for the World Sudoku Championship. It’s always a great contest for sudoku fans and there are no charges for taking part.

3) Lastly, back at DASH 7, Yasmin Curren took extensive video through the day. She has taken weeks of hard work, for which we’re all surely very grateful, to apply her magic; the results are a spectacular three-minute summary of the fun to be had, though perhaps the puzzles – being less telegenic – have to take second place. Be sure to look out for the Quidditch, Wronski Feint and all:

Around the world: Getting together

Hands around the worldIt’s definitely possible to draw parallels between the development of the exit game hobbies in different countries around the world. People start exit games, there become enough of them to inspire people to want to talk about them, eventually players and operators think about meeting up. Doubtless there will be other parallels still that develop in different places independently over time as well.

1) “National character” is lazy shorthand for prejudice, but it’s a compliment – and an amusing one – that the first country sufficiently organised to run an Escape Games convention is Germany. The line-up looks exciting, though more likely to be of interest to site owners than anybody else – but when you get enough people interested in the genre in the same place at the same time, magic will happen pretty organically. There’s a reduced price for bloggers; if there’s anyone out there who wants to represent Exit Games UK who isn’t working the night shift on September 4th and either speaks German or just doesn’t mind requiring people to translate for them all day, please get in touch.

2) Talking of bloggers, that’s not quite how it works in Canada. Some of the exit game bloggers of the Greater Toronto area, and their talented theatrical friends, will be putting on three sittings of a one-night 100-player stadium-style exit game. In your Night at the Speakeasy (a Prohibition-era illegal drinking den), explore the rooms, solve puzzles, interact with the actors, don’t get whacked by da wise guys and find the exit on September 19th in the Canadian Caper. This is horribly impressive, they’re going to have such fun, they have such accomplished track records that this site firmly hopes that the event is as huge a hit as it deserves to be.

3) Talking of bloggers and stadium-style games, EscapeGame.Paris announced that The Real Escape Game came, and are coming, to France; three of the four sessions of the SCRAP-derived mass-participation event have happened already, the fourth is set to follow soon. Given that Real Escape Game have brought their games to France and also to Spain, this site is very positive about the chance of it coming to the UK at some point as well.

4) So what does the UK have? Well, the UK will have The Crystal Maze, and this site is organising an industry meetup there. 14 tickets have gone, 18 tickets remain. If you’ve vaguely expressed interest in the past – even if just as a comment to a post – then please convert it into actual interest now; you should have received details by e-mail about how to send money and guarantee your place, but please get in touch if you haven’t.

5) However, all of these rely not just on being in certain countries, but also on being in certain cities within those countries. If you’re not in the right city, you can get together remotely this weekend by taking part in the seventh (“Swiss”) round of the World Puzzle Federation’s Grand Prix puzzle competition; 90 minutes to score points by solving 23 puzzles of seven different types. The download the Instruction Booklet page will let you find if this contest is the right one for you.