Firstly, apologies for the silence. Non-escape-room life has been busy, and that’s meant the blog has had to take a bit of a back seat. The good news is that things are calming down and I’m hoping to start publishing again later this month (expect various reviews including a round-up of some amazing games in Athens!). First up, though, is ERIC, the UK Escape Room conference that’s taking place on Monday and Tuesday of next week. It’s been a roaring success in the build-up, with tickets selling out although, if you check out their website, they do seem to have one left at the moment.
This will be my third occasion presenting at the conference – this time I’m geeking out with statistics from across the industry, highlighting some of the data from the enthusiast survey, Exit Games, various international sites, TripAdvisor and a survey of owners. I’ve also been lucky enough to have someone share some aggregated data from the last year, which may help answer some of the questions that regularly come up on owners’ forums.
I’ll be joined on stage by some of the very best in the industry. Skimming through the talks, there are lots that catch the eye. Here are some of my highlight for the two days:
- “Five years of f*** ups” from Dan Hill looks like a great start to the conference. What could be better than hearing about how things have gone horribly wrong… for someone else :-).
- Next, I’m attracted to Shelly Burton’s talk on Utopia and Dystopia. She created a pair of games that connect so seamlessly that they can offer normal one-hour games but still give enthusiasts a true two-hour experience if they want.
- After the break, I’d be tempted by “Tech on a Budget”. Good tech in an escape room doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive – if you’re not using tech yet, then join Paul Hayes for his talk to help you through the basics.
- Definitely my highlight of the afternoon is the Dimitrises from Paradox Project, Athens talking about creating three-hour games. I was stunned by the experiences when I played them, but what really impressed me was their attention to detail. Everything in the room has a purpose, even if you’re not consciously aware of it – I hope they don’t just stick to the technicalities of running a three hour game.
- Follow that up by attending David Spira’s talk on the Player Experience. As far as I’m concerned, Lisa and David, who run Room Escape Artist, are the gold standard of reviewing. Even with only one of them in attendance, it’ll still probably be the most valuable 45 minutes you’ll spend over the two days.
- Alistair Aitchison’s talk on using Game Design jumps out as a starter on day 2. His comments on the Facebook forum show that he’s got talent, and I’m intrigued to hear what he has to say.
- Follow that up with the softly spoken Jack Fallows, who’ll be talking about designing stories and writing puzzles. He’s a jack of all trades though, so I hope he doesn’t keep too tightly to that description and goes into what makes his experiences so special.
- After the break, Yan Xie from AI Escape is going to talk about the Chinese market. While much of what they do will never work in the UK, they certainly provide a possible future, and hearing about what they’re doing will be more than interesting.
- Another chance to learn from mistakes follows with Lukas Rauscher talking about Going Underground (a game in Vienna) – one of the best escape rooms I’ve played this year.
- After lunch, I’m really pleased to see Brendan is giving a talk about photography. It never ceases to amaze me how little effort is spent on this key moment in games. Photos are your secret weapon in advertising, and a few tricks will significantly improve the results. As a former professional photographer, Brendan knows his stuff!
- After that, I’ll be heading to a quiet room to do a final quick rehearsal for my talk – I’ve managed to end up on stage for the last two slots of the event. It should finish off with some fun, though, as I’m joined by some of the most well-known escape room bloggers for a Q&A.
And that’s pretty much it. Aside from the parties…
If you’re attending the conference, then please come and say hello. I’ll be there both days and, aside from the two sessions where I’m on stage, I’ll be spending most of my time chatting to attendees. Whether you’re an owner, a designer, a GM, a builder or, like me, a plain old enthusiast, I’d love to meet you and hear your take on escape rooms. Hope to see you there!