Good news for March 2016

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

Here are a selection of stories that will hopefully put a smile on your face. Just think about the people involved and the smiles that must have been on their faces!

  • First to Puzzlair of Bristol, who are celebrating John’s proposal to Claire. May all their escapes be great ones!
  • It seems almost disrespectful to focus on more than a single couple’s big day, but more and more sites are hosting these happy occasions, and also sharing the good news is Escape of Glasgow. This time it was Annie who proposed, and thanked Nick and Kim at Escape on Twitter for their help. The Escape team went on to post further details of the happy event.
  • Not a proposal, but something that might happen somewhere down the line for some happy couples. To say more would be to spoil the surprise, so let The Great Escape Game of Sheffield tell the story. Perhaps there will be a nearer miss than two days being talked about by an exit game before long. (Lovely name, too!)
  • So this story is almost telling a story of the progression of a relationship. One happy step further down the line for some relationships is a fifth birthday party; for one here, we have to go to Locked In Edinburgh. The event they describe sounds wonderful here, whether celebrating a fifth birthday or a fifty-fifty birthday.
  • Perhaps your five-year-old will grow up and start their own business. Perhaps their business will win an award, as in this happy story as Can You Escape? of Edinburgh celebrate their victory in the Best-Performing Business (1-10) category at the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce awards. Congratulations and here’s to many more!

Good news for mid-December 2015

Cartoon of people reading newspapers and a bookToday feels like a day where three cheerful news stories would not go amiss.

The Room of Glasgow are distinctive for reasons including the sizes of the largest games that they offer; their Mansion Room game is designed for teams of 8 to 16 (though there may be some wiggle room) and their Party Room for teams of 10 to 16. Throughout December, there are a number of promotions being launched “by the resident elves”, notably a discount code available for those playing up to December 20th. The most delightful initiative is this one; as discussed on Facebook: “On the 16th of December, we will be hosting a Charity Day. We are offering 3 Party Room games for free for groups of disadvantaged children (from an orphanage, care home, or from poor families). We would like to give the gift of fun to these kids for Christmas, the way we can. We want to give back to the community, and thought it would be great to surprise kids with some caring and fun.” How kind! Exit Games UK commends the site on this thoughtful – and original! – gesture.

Breakout Manchester have launched a second site within the city centre, on the High Street near the Arndale shopping complex. (It’s about eight minutes’ walk from their first location, which remains open.) The new location will feature another John Monroe’s Detective Office, with a new room entitled Vacancy opening tomorrow – “Exhausted after a long journey, you place your bag down on the freshly made bed, ready to relax. Suddenly, an ominous sixty minute countdown begins. No matter what you try, the door will not open. Welcome to Crimson Lake Motel. You check in, but you NEVER check out…” – and a horror-themed Facility X room for players aged 16+ opening soon. “You arrive at an unknown location for a once in a lifetime opportunity; a conference held by the critically acclaimed, Dr. Andrews. His work is widely known throughout the research circles, but he has remained hidden in the shadows for years. What you don’t know, is that Dr. Andrews has gone mad, creating a string of tests that have gone disastrously wrong. He has brought you here for his final experiment.” A fourth room on the site is promised for January, and that’s not all; this new location is a big old space and there may very well be more to come.

Jackie from Locked In Edinburgh got in touch to enthuse about their second room. “Our theme has stemmed from having Pickering’s Gin Distillery sited directly below our escape rooms.” Exit Games UK loves games with local flavour, no pun intended, so the localism here is hard to beat. “The distillery reported a breakin which is thought to be an inside job. Which employee is plotting the distillery downfall and to where are Pickerings planning to move their gin stock for safe keeping? ((…)) A tour of the distillery can be incorporated, although probably best after players escape as the tour includes gin samples which may cloud people’s thinking heads!

Here’s a bonus cheerful news item, not related to exit games: while the shortest day of the year doesn’t happen for nearly another week, we’ve already reached the point in the year where the sun is starting to set later and later. Indeed, the UK is at a point in the year where both sunrise and sunset are getting later in the day, and which one is moving more quickly determines whether the day is lengthening or shortening. Take it as a sign that we’re already making it through the winter!

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!

News round-up for the start of October

News round-upThe usual monthly statistics are being produced at this moment, but some news stories cannot wait:

  • The most time-critical story refers to a competition for a gift voucher to play Locked in Edinburgh. The competition claims to close at “midnight Monday 5th October”; fingers crossed that means “midnight at the end of Monday 5th October”, because if it means midnight at the start of Monday 5th October then you’ve got, what, nearly half an hour to enter. Better hurry either way!
  • Good news: The Great Escape Game of Sheffield have announced their first marriage proposal! It’s not clear whether the photo is a depiction of (a non-spoilery part, obviously, of) the Mad Scientist Room bedecked with a proposal in rose petals, but it’s delightful to imagine that it was. This is the fifth UK exit game proposal that this site knows about and the first time that it has been mentioned that the recipient of the proposal was male. (No clue about the proposer, not that it matters.) Many congratulations to the happy couple and to the site!
  • Bad News: House of Enigma of Leeds’ web site’s booking section says Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances outside of our control, we are no longer able to accept new bookings. Please accept our sincere apologies and we hope to be back soon! The Facebook presence has been taken down as well. That was quick; as the site was open for less than a month, perhaps this might be considered a false start rather than something where you had not to blink to miss it. As over 240 copies of the Groupon voucher were sold, this site dearly hopes that this is a temporary blip; should the worst come to the worst, consult the Groupon FAQ. Fingers firmly crossed that it’s back for good before long.
  • Good news from elsewhere: just over a year ago, this site discussed Boda Borg, a live action puzzle action game with seven branches in Sweden and one in Ireland. Happily, yesterday a branch quietly opened very near Boston in the United States, with the Grand Opening next Saturday. This site enjoyed coverage in the Boston Globe, which suggests that co-owner Chad “Ellis spent close to $4 million renovating the 30,000-square-foot space“. Whoa. No matter what the budget, it sounds spectacular.
  • This site enjoyed the embedded trailer video for GTFO Escape Entertainment of Canada, which obviously stands for “Get The Fun On”, in the TFI Friday style of acronyms and their expansions. Nevertheless, the video is fun because it contains a code to find… and this site thinks it has only found the first two-thirds of it. You can do some quite clever things with YouTube videos, such as interactive rock paper scissors (which has been implemented many other ways on YouTube, too). Can there be a meaningful way to embed a more interactive puzzle within a trailer video for an exit game?

End of August news round-up

News round-upA few different news stories to end the month:

  • Clue HQ have outdone themselves, announcing plans for a new attraction at each of their two locations. Blackpool will host The Experiments Live on the weekend of Hallowe’en, plus the two weekends beforehand: nine days, a total of 32 sessions. Two teams can play at once in each session, so there are only 64 spaces to book, full stop. Each team can consist of three to six; the game will last 60 minutes and will include both a room to escape and an outdoor section. The fee is higher than usual, though far from the top of the market – £139 for up to 6, or £250 for up to 12 – but the excess pays for the addition of scare actors. Bearing in mind Clue HQ‘s heritage, while there are increasing numbers of horror-themed exit games out there, there are people for whom the experiments within will doubtlessly be delightfully distasteful.
  • For the rest of us, the original Warrington location is adding a new game, Sacrifice. It is played by teams of four or six – but these teams are split into two pairs or triplets respectively for some intra-team competition. The two half-teams compete in the same room in full view of each other, to increase the intensity further; one half-team may escape, the slower half-team will be the sacrifice of the game’s title!
  • Red House Mysteries, responsible for the live hunt events and also part of the team behind the recent live ChatRoulette first-person shoot-’em-up, are crowdfunding their first exit game; the Kickstarter campaign has got off to a decent start.
  • Locked in Edinburgh have good news; their return from a Fringe-necessitated pause will be one day earlier than expected: Monday 7th September.
  • The site formerly known as AK Escape Room of Cork has been renamed to We Escape and have suggested that they plan to launch in a second city. Exciting times!

More and more news

breaking-newsMore and more short news stories at the moment; sadly, they can’t all be longer pieces. Eyes down for a full house.

  • Episode four of Race to Escape was broadcast on Saturday night and has made its way to illicit video-sharing sites already. (There are only six episodes in this series, but so much difference from epsiode to episode; treasure them before they’re gone.) This episode is perhaps the most so of the series to date in a room that looks like it would be tremendous fun to have played. The aforementioned illicit video-sharing sites don’t make it easy – there are doubtless plenty of adverts (noisy pop-unders and the like, maybe worse) – but here’s this week’s link to a list of sites. Megavideoz was the starting-point used here once again.
  • Less than two and a half days to go in the Enigma Quests Kickstarter and less than two and a half hundred pounds required for the project to fund. It’s looking promising, but there’s always more that can be done and those early bird prices look attractive.
  • Edinburgh’s the place to be for exit game excitement while the Fringe is in progress. Locked In Edinburgh have done extremely well before their temporary hiatus starts tomorrow; while the intention was to hold a short run before the venue would be used for a Festival performance, it has proved so successful that it’s now taking bookings for a permanent run from the same address from Tuesday 8th September onwards. Excellent news! The game is set in a disused small animal hospital; unusually, it is a dog-friendly venue, so do bring your dogs along and see if they can sniff out the secrets.
  • The top five entries in the current version of TripAdvisor’s Fun and Games in Edinburgh chart, at time of writing, are all exit games. Great work all round and well worth celebrating!
  • Elsewhere in Edinburgh, comedian Alex Horne and team didn’t have to say “We Need Answers” as they demonstrated that they could answer yes at Can You Escape, and husband-and-wife global medal-winning judoka (? judokas? judokae? Judo superstars, anyhow) Euan Burton MBE and Gemma Gibbons both enjoyed tying Dr. Knox’s Enigma in knots.
  • The stars aren’t just coming out in Edinburgh; The Escape Room of Manchester’s recent Open Night included an appearance by two Hollyoaks actors – but no indication whether they escaped their game or not!
  • Clue HQ of Warrington have launched their fourth game, The Teleporter. In it, the anagrammatic Professor Errol Tepet was a recluse and came up with a number of different inventions during his life time. Not much is known about this device. Nobody knows how he came up with The Teleporter or even if it actually exists – some say it’s just a myth. It probably doesn’t work, but do you fancy a look around? If you’ve played any of their other games before, then you very probably do!
  • CNBC have some rather lovely Time Run clips in a piece on the genre; pity they’ve got a couple of names very slightly wrong, but you can’t have everything!

Coming soon to Edinburgh: Locked In Edinburgh

Locked In Edinburgh logoA couple of pieces of housekeeping first:

  • This weekend sees the UK Puzzle Championship taking place online at no charge; you still have until Monday night to clear a 2½-hour window of your choice and solve the puzzles. The puzzles were great fun and you will probably beat my score. Recommended, even if you don’t normally do puzzle competitions.
  • This site has previously proposed meeting up at The Crystal Maze live attraction; there’s enough interest that this is set to go ahead, and I’m collecting money to guarantee places. If you’ve expressed an interest, you should have received mail about it and should send through money now as described in the mail. (If you haven’t received mail about it, or if you want to jump in, please get in touch and I’ll send the payment details through.) Eight of the 32 places have gone in the first few hours.

On Friday 3rd July, Edinburgh will get its fifth exit game: Locked In Edinburgh. (Tip of the hat to Ken for pointing it out, and this site has no known connection to Locked In Games of Leeds.) The site is “located in the iconic Summerhall complex which originally housed the University of Edinburgh Veterinary College from 1916 until 2011, affectionately known as the Dick Vet. With this history our rooms are created within old labs, operating rooms and theatres which we feel will enhance your experience.” It’s about a mile from Waverley station, just past the University, and buses are extremely frequent.

Continuing the theme, the location is launching with a single game. “Since closing its doors as a Vet School in 2011, Summerhall Complex has become a thriving Arts Hub with many rooms being adapted to accommodate eclectic exhibitions, installations and shows. Some rooms remain empty, unused and abandoned or so we thought… The retired mad Professor, Doctor C. Lion, was never actually seen to hang up his lab coat when the school closed all those years ago. Strange noises are rumoured to be heard late at night, coming from the old operating room. Is the doctor still experimenting? Could there be animals held there against their will?

It’s a sixty-minute game for teams of two to six, accessed through the “Blake 7” tunnel above the courtyard. A second game at the same location is promised soon. Teams of two are charged £45, with additional players increasing the team price to £55, £60, £70 or £75 for the full six.

No animals were harmed in the making of this post.