News round-up for mid-January 2016

News round-upThis site is off to the unconference called The Great Escape UK today, so here are some news stories that have been queued up for a little while. There may be live coverage on Twitter with #EscGamesUK, but no guarantees.

  • Congratulations to Kelly and Alyson who became engaged to each other before Christmas at Escape Rooms Scotland! A report on Facebook suggests that Kelly had no idea, making the surprise proposal even sweeter. The best of health and happiness all round!
  • Clue HQ have already revealed that their next branch to open will be in Birmingham; even before launch, the Birmingham Post have a big piece on the forthcoming site. The suggestion that it might hold 36 guests gives a clear hint as to the ambition behind the location, suggesting it’s clearly one to watch.
  • Puzzlair of Bristol are also in the news as the Bristol Post visited the attraction and had “a great night out“. The reporter also noted that they had played Locked In A Room a few weeks earlier, so this site now has a favourite Bristol local newspaper. Some day the national press will start reviewing rooms and games…
  • Escape Asylum of Leicester are planning to launch in March but are already being covered in a piece in the Leicester Mercury that gives good detail about the founders’ backgrounds and starting-points and – along with the video – will give you a clear idea whether it’s the game for you. The site is set to launch whether or not its crowdfunding campaign reaches its goal; East Midlanders who like darker games should get in early and perhaps quickly pick up a discount.
  • Thanks to Ken for that one and for this: speaking of Kickstarter, there’s a campaign for a site in Preston called Timed Trap. While the campaign hasn’t got off to the best of starts, it’s far from unknown for an exit game to struggle with crowdfunding and then thrive in the fullness of time, so it’s definitely one to keep on the radar.
  • Further afield, the Brantford Expositor of Canada – and compare Expositor to Post and Mercury! – featured a piece on the BreakoutEDU Game Jam this weekend. Looks like an excellent time was had by all; it’s also exciting to read that there are more to come.
  • Even further afield still, Intervirals points to a panel on exit games at the PAX Australia convention in Melbourne. It takes a little listening, but fun to hear how they do it down under!

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!

More good news

good newsI’ve had some very bad news. It’s not relevant what it is, for those of you lucky enough not to know it, and it doesn’t affect my ability to continue keeping this going. Instead, time to share some good news.

  • Congratulations to Clue HQ Sunderland for opening their first game! The planned opening was discussed two months ago yesterday and has – very unusually – come ahead of schedule. Bunker 38 is now open, with The Vault set to follow soon. Tyneside has proved a popular location – more news to come on this soon – so hopefully Wearside works just as well. All the very warmest of wishes to them!
  • Also the very warmest of wishes to a couple whose proposal took place at Cryptic Escape of Norwich. This might be the seventh UK couple to propose at an exit game of which this site is aware; let’s hope they all remain locked tightly – no, unbreakably, together.
  • The Escape Room have been welcoming the stars: both stars on two wheels at their Manchester location and stars of the screen at their Preston branch. Their third location, planned for Birmingham, is close to announcing a launch date; who knows what stars they might be able to attract there?
  • Lastly, and further afield, this site very much enjoyed reading about the latest SCRAP Real Escape Game event in Tokyo, this one “a puzzle-solving game played while walking through the streets of Tokyo. To find your next destination, you will need to solve the mysteries you find along the way.” In other words, a self-paced puzzle hunt, running at your convenience until December 27th. Cutely, there’s a tie-up with the Tokyo Metro, and the game kit comes with a one-day travel pass to get you from location to location. “English and Traditional Chinese versions are available for this game so non-Japanese speakers who can understand English or Traditional Chinese are welcome to play the game as well!” To give this claim a try, Escape Room Directory’s Dan Egnor posted his review to Google Plus and was rather impressed. Certainly it’s among the most mainstream puzzle hunts yet!

Good news from early November

another-adventureIt’s been a few days since the real world has permitted a chance to catch up with things here, so to get back into the swing of things, a few quick good news stories:

  • This site has covered proposals at exit games before. This site has even covered proposals at Breakout Manchester before… and more than one of them, from memory. (Can’t get enough of them, though!) However, this site hasn’t had one quite like this before. The groom, who popped the question, wrote about his day, and the moment itself has been caught and shared both as a still photo and as a video clip, in the very rare instance where sharing camera footage from the rooms is actually properly cool. Hooray! Many congratulations to the joyous couple!
  • Two and a half months ago, this site posted about Red House Mysteries and their involvement in the Chatroulette First-Person Shooter. If you happened to be on Chatroulette at the right time, perhaps you might have been lucky enough to be involved in the recently-released level two, much more spectacular still, being filmed in an abandoned power station. Congratulations all round, not least to Red House Mysteries for the timely opening of their site in Exeter.
  • Over in Leeds, Locked In Games celebrated their first anniversary not only with some rather spectacular cakes but by donating the day’s profits to a local charity. Many happy returns of the day!
  • In London, the granddaddy of them all, HintHunt are hiring an experienced site manager. Jobs are also going in New York, Vienna and Budapest, which sounds extremely exciting.
  • Having started at Breakout Manchester, a good place to end is at Breakout Liverpool, where one Daniel Sturridge and friends broke out of their Classified room. Fingers crossed that more injured footballers use exit games as part of their rehab routines.

Late October news round-up: the Foreign Office

Stylised globe encircled by a bolt of lightCloser each day… Home and Away. Following on from yesterday’s home news, here’s the remaining news from around the world.

  • Today sees the sold-out Ontario Escape Room Unconference 2015 at Ryerson University in Toronto. It is being chaired by the irrepressible Dr. Scott Nicholson, the foremost academic in the field – but, being an unconference, all fifty ticketholders are expected to actively participate. While unconferences don’t stream well, there’s a Facebook group, the Twitter hashtag #oeru15 and hopefully documentation to follow. If the unconference model proves to work well, perhaps it might be the first of many.
  • Carrying on from yesterday’s discussion of bespoke amateur games (and that’s no insult at all; the word amateur essentially derives from the Latin verb amare and refers to someone who does something for the love of it), while MIT has been famous for its annual global-cutting-edge Mystery Hunt for decades, it was delightful to see that the Next House dorm at the university have their own two-storey pop-up exit game, within a basement, over Hallowe’en for a second year. It could well be fiendish!
  • Speaking of student puzzle hunts, hadn’t previously seen mention that registration is now open for the 2015 SUMS Puzzle Hunt for teams of up to five, run in the traditional five-daily-rounds-of-increasingly-difficult puzzles Australian style with the first round being released on 2nd November.
  • Sanford, FL is a part of the Greater Orlando area possibly best known for its airport. However, they also have an exit game on a cycle limousine. Say what, now? Up to fifteen people bring their own beer and wine (in plastic containers) or soft drinks onto the human-powered vehicle and must pedal with their feet, as if on a bicycle, to propel it along. (A pilot steers the contraption.) While they’re doing that, and drinking, they have two hours to solve the pirate-themed puzzles – and get the clues from the locations to which they will pedal along the way – which will lead them to save their kidnapped captain. Can’t say it’s not original…
  • Finally, many belated congratulations to Lisa Radding and David Spira of the excellent Room Escape Artist blog on their engagement! Mission Escape Games of New York City helped by hiding a custom box made for Lisa as they (and their team!) played the location’s brand new Nemesis game (see their review) – but the fun only started there. Happily, the second half of the story has been impeccably caught in a series of photos. The very best of joy and health to you both!

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?

Mid-August news round-up

News round-up

Who’s a lucky bug? Someone who has just met the brilliant and charming brain behind and its sibling blogs, all full of excellent writing and even better thought behind them, on a trip to London from (as the domain suggests) Singapore. The same lucky bug is off to see friends in Wales this weekend, hurrah!

Here are some quick stories to keep you going for now:

  • Exit Games UK loves stories about proposals at exit games, of which there have been at least… ooh, three that spring to mind. However, a recent one at Dr. Knox’s Enigma of Edinburgh attracted media attention. Game principal Jonathan Dowie, according to STV, “is so confident of the game’s ability to test the compatibility of life partners, he has promised the couple free entry on every anniversary date to come“, which is extremely cute. Congratulations, and many, many games in the years to come, to the happy couple!
  • Following up on a recent story, Code to Exit of Altrincham recently made a post to Facebook featuring this rather handsome trophy, awarded to the team with the quickest escape each month. There are pitfalls in encouraging competition too much, but that is done very tastefully, and this site can imagine some of the usual suspects getting very excited about the prospect.
  • Breakout Liverpool are rather excited about their new fifth room and sixth game. In The Facility, the story goes that “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. You have one hour to escape his maze of tricks and games, before a deadly virus kills you all.” This room has a horror theme and is not suitable for players under 16. Considering what the Breakout gang have been known to get up to in order to spice Hallowe’en games up, they’re not kidding.
  • The Metro free newspaper and the Jeep Renegade are organising a free draw where the prize is to take part in an Art Heist experience in Manchester on Saturday 5th September. (You have to make your own way there.) The most relevant part is that the experience itself is being organised by CoLab Theatre, responsible for Fifth Column, as discussed last year.
  • Lastly, the Enigma Quests crowdfunding campaign has caught the attention of Time Out London and others, and the game’s first Quest is now practically 70% funded with seven days to go. The beta-tester and Super Early Bird slots have all gone, but the Early Bird prices still look attractive, and the game looks like one of a kind!

Early July exit game news

Newspaper graphicExit game news from three parts of the UK today.

1) In London, Time Run have extended their, er, run from 2nd August until at least 30th September – excluding Mondays, as ever. That said, from 3rd August onwards, the off-peak (weekdays before 5pm) price rises from £24 plus VAT per player to £29 plus VAT per player, and the peak price rises from £29 plus VAT per player to £35 plus VAT per player.

Unrelatedly, Room Escape AdventuresTrapped in a Room with a Zombie has moved within town to Whitechapel; ScareTOUR report that the game’s operation has been taken over by Apocalypse Events, who already run plenty of other zombie-themed experiences in the capital. Charmingly, on Valentine’s Day, they had Zombie couples makovers in the same venue as the old TiaRwaZ site…

2) Further north, Logiclock of Nottingham have announced that their second room will be Made in STEIN: Science Adventure. The STEIN company, standing for Science, Technology, Entertainment, Innovations and Novelty, previously had an employee called Professor E. “You’ll enter Professor E.’s room. Professor E. had to go very quickly and without attracting attention. He had to leave so fast he couldn’t find somebody who could continue his work. There are lots of candidates but he needs the best of the best. The Professor asked Mrs. Taylor, his assistant for help. In order to prove your skills you have one thing to do: escape from Professor E.’s room“.

3) Further north still, Breakout Games Inverness of the Highlands announced that they hosted their first proposal! This isn’t an industry first or even a UK industry first – Breakout Manchester have hosted at least one and this site would bet that it isn’t an industry second either – but this is as happy as news gets, and hiding the engagement ring inside the last puzzle is the classiest possible way to do it.

A persistent urban myth is that some stores’ managers have the discretion to celebrate a customer’s waters breaking in their shop with free vouchers and the like. When will we see the first exit game host an unexpected birth on the premises… let alone a labour lasting less than an hour?

Hatches, a match and an underground patch

Cartoon of people reading newspapers and a bookSome quick news stories:

1) This site has previously discussed Escapologic of Nottingham and gamEscape of Liverpool as locations opening soon; happily, both launched as planned on Friday 1st May. They look cool as well as being exciting additions to both of their cities; best of luck to them both.

A couple of weird coincidences: there are only two exit games in the UK whose names include the word “logic”, and they’re both in Nottingham. This site is also not quite sure where to put the stress in either of the names (EscaPOlogic? EscapoLOgic? EscaPOLOgic? GamEScape? GAMEscape?) when you pronounce either of them out loud. No matter!

2) The Room opened in Glasgow only four weeks ago, but already it has hosted its first proposal! Congratulations to the happy couple, and to The Room as well. This isn’t the first exit game to host a proposal; the Breakout Manchester Twitter was appropriately joyous when they hosted theirs, and it seems far more likely than not that other sites have hosted proposals as well. This site only hopes that exit games have hosted more proposals than they have caused divorces.

3) Last March, in the first dozen days or so of the life of the site, this site pondered whether there might ever be an exit game in a deep-level shelter, far beneath the streets of London. Entirely seriously, something rather similar to this might become an option. Transport for London recently announced that its “Commercial Development team are looking for third party partners to develop innovative commercial projects across Underground, Rail and Surface Transport assets“. The current opportunity is one of the most evocative of them all: Down Street station, on the Piccadilly line until it was closed over 80 years ago; Wikipedia notes that it was “used by prime minister Winston Churchill and his war cabinet until the Cabinet War Rooms were ready for use“.

TfL will be launching a Down Street station bidders’ conference to launch the tender process; the brochure (6 MB .pdf) invites you, among other things, to “Imagine a truly immersive theatrical production performed in front of a small, exclusive audience” in part of the lift shaft. If there can be a theatrical production, there can be an exit game, either there or in any of several other parts of the facility – and, with the right story, maybe one with as much authenticity as it gets. This site gets the impression that it wouldn’t be cheap, but if the right site ever thought about Going Underground, this might be the ideal opportunity.

Bonus! 4) Considering the world’s biggest sporting event taking place this evening, Escape Live win huge timeliness and topicality points for this delightful pun.