#EscGamesUK – a roundup of our first Escape Room UnConference

Just a quick note to give a shout out to all the great guys who travelled to Leeds for the inaugural Great Escape Unconference. We had a buzzing room, and I was delighted with the levels of honesty and generosity from everyone attending. The sheer scale of peoples’ achievements, ambitions and hopes for their rooms was inspiring. In particular, I felt a deep connection with all those discussing the importance of narrative and immersion alongside customer service.

So in no particular order, here are the Escape Room folks I talked to on the day:

Nathan, the man with a plan from Agent November  – running London-based outdoor spy trails, indoor escape rooms, and planning the break the Guinness World Record for organising the world’s biggest treasure hunt this August. Two other mobile room runners argued the business case for no-fixed-address: Steve who runs Puzzle Rooms –  the first and only escape room experience in East Anglia, and my Time Games colleague Toby who got on his bike to launch his business in Utrecht.

We had four folks from Breakout in Manchester and Liverpool including Ed & Chelsea who volunteered to host us in future – so we may get the chance to do a full puzzle room as part of a Manchester event.

Thank you to Zoli of ClueQuest London, who we should all thank for being one of the first to bring the Escape Room concept here from Europe – as well as his impromptu and very welcome sponsorship of the event in the form of free pens!

Jas and Jordan were representing Escape Live Birmingham – one of their Birmingham-based games is a hostage rescue mission, which I’m tempted to travel and try.

Elaine and Mike from Escape Quest shared their experience as seasoned Escape Room owners, and as well as being very generous with their advice for newcomers, they aren’t afraid to shake it up a little closer to home: their infamous scary “Bad Clown” game has been redesigned and revamped as a 90-minute version with live actors for adults, and a toned-down 60-minute game for the younger audience, just relaunched in Macclesfield.

Loving the steampunk vibe from Escapologic, Matt and Simon spent time with Jackie of Escape Games Scotland talking geocaching whilst our german visitors from Exit Games, Mystery Rooms and Exit Ventures caught up over that North of England speciality – fish-finger butties.  Tia from Timehunter spent much of the time scribing  (Thank you Tia!) – we hope to get all your notes gathered soon.

Honourable mention to top blogger Claire of Girl Geek Up North with 30+ live action games under her belt, whose opinions on what makes a good experience were practical and useful – I’m looking forward to her blogpost about the day.

Similarly Chris, whose data-collecting and crunching sets the stage for serious industry conversations – find him and all the latest Escape Room News at the Exit Games blog.

It was good to meet John Sear and talk about immersive theatre, massive group games, and all the cross-overs between the arts and live gaming. My passion is creating immersive stories, so this is a conversation I hope to continue soon.

We’re aware that the Escape Room Industry is young, and the majority of customers are first-timers treating rooms as tourist attractions or fun fairs. We know that for the industry to grow we need to encourage repeat visits – and this is one of the reasons we have set up UK Escape Room Owners on Facebook – do come join us to continue the conversation.

Last but not least, good luck to Dan and his erstwhile builders Matt & Luke whose “Hour Escape” game is launching soon.

If I’ve missed you, let me know – so many people, so many ideas.

Thank you all, see you on the UK Escape Room owners group, and at the next one?

 

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