The escape game jam
OK, so this took place on Friday, August 20th, before the main event.
What do YOU think the escape game jam was all about?
I’ll let you think about it for a moment.
You can watch this video of ‘Professor Scott Nicholson talks about 10 ways to beat any Escape Room’ while you’re thinking…
Right, so, what was your guess?
If you guessed that the escape game jam was all about conference attendees teaming up (gosh, I’ve used that phrase more frequently than I breathe while blogging about escape rooms 🤪 anyway) … you were on the right track.
The escape game jam was all about us teaming up to create a virtual escape room of our own.
How did it work, exactly?
Firstly, the Escape Game Jam was a compact one-day workshop with limited seatings (20-25 people). It was hosted two days before the actual conference.
Attendees were divided into 4 teams of (5-6 people)
Once again, credit to the organizers for not creating teams on the basis of ‘eenie-meenie-mynie-moe’, but…
Surveying the participants before to ensure that each team was a combination of newbies and veterans, so we were all on an even keel.
And we had around 3 hours to create a minimum viable virtual escape room…
Needless to say, we had a blast!
Who presented the Escape Game Jam?
We had Jeb Havens and Tommy Honton guiding us!
- Jeb has been in the gaming and software space since 2003, working for and with companies like Google, EA, Disney and Marvel. Plus, he’s also a recording artist and a playwright.
- Tommy is an interactive experience designer, the brains behind the award-winning escape room Stash House, the immersive theater The Mortality Machine, and a sought-after public speaker on interactive entertainment.
So, yeah, RECON did bring out the big guns for the occasion.
A bit about how the Jam went…
Well, it kicked off with Tommy and Jeb introducing us to the Jam concept.
Collaboration, not competition
Mind you, with so many of us also having bought tickets for escape room games (we’ll come to those in a minute), it would be easy to gnash our teeth and start having a go at each other.
But the Jam was different.
The Jam was about collaborating on a project. Working together to build an escape room.
And, that was the thrust of the pep talk they gave us.
Building the escape room
First, we were given a demo of a small virtual escape room experience.
Next, we were broken up into different groups.
Each group was asked to take a puzzle from the demo game, and tweak it to work on a different logic.
So now each group had a slightly different virtual escape game puzzle sequence of their own.
The next task was for each group to devise a backstory/narrative that fit their virtual escape game puzzle sequence.
The puzzle that each group adapted was playtested by other groups.
Based on the playtesters’ experience, we adjusted the puzzle further, to make it an enjoyable (not too easy, not too difficult) experience.
Finally, the entire virtual escape room was played by another group and reviewed.
Our verdict on the escape game jam
It was just what’s needed to get newbies and aspiring game designers started on prototyping their first experiences.
They rightly kept it open to all, to draw in a diverse crowd, hoping to get even the ultra-noob people “like me” to be able to overcome their limiting beliefs around puzzle designing and actually creating a tangible wireframe in only a few hours.
And, going by how it went, the kind of convos that were going on, it worked!
Or, let me put it this way…
The jam was a $60 paid entry, on top of whichever ticket you bought for the main conference.
And it was sold out.
What does that tell you?
The escape game Playpass!
Fill in the blanks…
I’d hardly have been gushing on about how great the conference was had there not been an opportunity to just sit back and enjoy an escape game, would I?
What makes the Playpass even more exciting is that it gives you the opportunity to be the first players of brand new games by the creators!
There were so many amazing games, and we wanted to play everything but the world is a cruel place. So we were only able to play…
Escape From Escape Island – An Audio Escape Adventure
Style: Audio game; the host was sharing images over Discord and narrating the entire experience.
Presented by: Trapped Puzzles Rooms (from Minneapolis, MN, USA).
I bet this is one game scenario you’d never have thought of!
Kudos to the host for staying in character throughout and for his sense of humor which was the icing on the cake!
Escape From Mibo Island
Style: Asynchronous Online Game.
Presented by: Sherlocked (from Amsterdam, The Netherlands).
PS: We played this game before the conference. (so.. here’s our review)
An awesome opportunity to chill on a tropical island and hang out with friends. What makes Mibo Island fun is the brilliant interface where you can use WASD or Direction Keys to move around, Space to Jump (much like a computer game), and cherry on the cake is the cute player avatars that have like a Monitor Head (with Webcam) as the player characters. Fun – Light hearted, and I can see this as a entrylevel prototype for how Escape Rooms can be made scalable in the future.
Checkout all the games that were offered in the Play Pass at RECON ‘21 here.
Our verdict on the Playpass
RECON would have been incomplete without it.
First of all, who doesn’t jump at the chance to play Escape Rooms?
And this was a diverse variety of games – from audio adventures to asynchronous games to puzzle hunts.
First-timers were all agog at the different game types.
And given that the game designers were from diverse geographies, it is a unique opportunity to taste game design and content from other cultures that you have never seen before.