May 2018 saw the return of ‘Up the Game’ to the Netherlands. The conference was labelled the ‘Future of Experience,’ hosting all types of ventures, talks and demos within the Escape Room industry and was located inside the repurposed Prison of Breda. As the voiceover stated on the opening of the event, ‘we are future and we are here to learn and share with others of the same interest.’ The conference didn’t disappoint with lectures from enthusiasts, owners and event companies and stalls displaying the growing technology in the industry.
Below are a few sentences about most of the conference activities and possible future ventures for the Escape Room Industry. If you are an owner, enthusiast or passionate about Escape Rooms you might like to read on to see what’s coming and also get yourself prepared for ‘Up the Game’ in Amsterdam 2019.
Talks from the enthusiasts
Many enthusiasts turned up at the conference including the UK’s Ken Ferguson and Sarah Dodd who have over 1500 games under their belts between them, offering advice from the players’ perspective on how to improve game designs. Lots of information was expressed about how to design the flow of puzzles around an experience not just a room. As the industry is growing, many people are becoming more aware of the differences and similarities in Escape Rooms giving many owners and designers a chance to provide more unusual, specific experiences that appeal to different types of players. Ken and Sarah’s advice for the designer was to consider everything within the game play, including sound effects, lighting and position of the puzzles. Timing was also a big discussion point which would enable rest points between puzzle solving.
When an experience works it shows by the feedback from the players. Players’ feedback is crucial to the development of this industry and the growth of new and interesting immersive experiences. Sarah used this quote from a You Tube game design channel which explains the art of making a puzzle that flows right.
‘A Puzzle is the communication of an idea from a designer to a player; and solving it is a players way of saying
‘I understand’ Quote from Mark Brown A Game Makers Toolkit
Alternative Lines in the Escape Room Business
Ariel Rubin and Juliana Patel, makers of the Werewolf Experiment gave a talk about turning Escape Rooms and Escape type puzzles into tabletop versions. This included Ice breaking events and wedding proposals using various puzzles and group solving activities. Breaking away from the brick and mortar style escape room there seems to be more mobile events that can bring the joy of puzzle solving experiences to a growing number of people.
Mobile / Puzzle Escape games
As the industry is becoming more mature, it is providing more opportunities for everyone to enjoy an Escape game. Up the Game provided a few opportunities for participants to enjoy some of these games. Fortunately we had a chance to attend some of these demonstrations of mobile events that promote team building and collaboration.
Read the review for Brotherhood of the Sea
Read the review for Agent Killjoy’s Escape
More portable style Escape rooms are popping up everywhere (pun intended) including turn key styled games that are fully designed and manufactured to be moved around. InDeStRoom Mobile Magic room appeared at the conference with a huge castle to demonstrate their design skills.
These type of pop ups can offer more flexibility to locations and events such as festivals, this lead to a strange mobile escape that we didn’t expect.
Read the Review for Escape the Porta-loo.
Within the first 8 years of the escape industry, games have started with puzzles that involved simple lock and key, to letter/number padlocks, to more immersive tech such as electronic locks and RFID. The jump to augmented technology was not so far away. The opportunity to use GPS and create visuals at certain locations is a great step to make immersive storytelling. Probably not for the brick and mortar type escapes (although could be implemented) it leads itself to a mobile experience such as city tours and attraction discovery while solving a mystery along the way.
The growth of the industry has been astounding from the first one around 8 years ago to the present day (over 400 companies in the UK.) We have been operational for 2 years and have learnt so much in this time and hope to take back everything we have learnt to make your games more immersive and enjoyable. We will keep you updated with news from more conferences and technology from the industry as it happens.
Hopefully see you soon and happy escaping.