Behind the scenes at the Red Bull Mind Gamers competition in Budapest – Part One

Remember how the Red Bull Escape Room competition was taking a second wildcard team to Budapest?

“For four lucky players there’s still one more way to get into the Red Bull Escape Room World Finals. … A second Wildcard team will be chosen via the DxM Wildcard competition on the Red Bull Mind Gamers website.” – Intervirals

I entered the DxM Wildcard competition and decided to try my luck. For the next week I thought of the competition most days – on the train to work, at work and even before I fell asleep.

And then one day there was an email from the Red Bull team.

There was a spot on the DxM Wildcard team for me.

Fast forward to a week later and our Red Bull contact Martin introduced the Wildcard team to each other.

Our team included –
– Nick from the US, who has been the captain of Team USA at the World Puzzle Championships and an International Puzzle Party organiser.
– Megan from Canada, one of the owners of an escape room in Hamilton, Ontario called The ? Adventure. Plus according to her, has a great personality.
– Valentin from France, a student studying coding at a developer school
– And me!

Our team communicated a few times over Skype before the competition to build some rapport and finding the right time to chat across four time zones was a challenge we had to face. The only time we ever messed up a Skype conversation was because of daylight savings.

 

Flying to Budapest
Getting to Budapest required two flights, a layover in Qatar and 20+ hours of flying time – compared to most of the European teams who only had to deal with a few hours of flying. But it was all worth it to attend the competition!

Above: CSOPA Science Center

Day One
Red Bull decided to split up the competition based on proximity to Budapest and since our team was made up of different countries we got the day off. Teams playing on semi-final day two headed to CSOPA Science Center to explore some scientific exhibitions (while messing with a statue of Isaac Newton) and played one of the four escape rooms at the location.

In the afternoon, teams headed to another location to play three rounds of laser tag but after two sweaty rounds, a few people then headed to MacDonald’s.

And to finish off the day, teams then got a chance to watch the movie that brought all of us to Budapest – Mind Gamers. The DxM team was asked to stay behind after the movie and from one of the movie’s producers we got some free swag, a tshirt with the DxM logo on it.

Day Two and Day Three coverage will be posted soon.

Essa

Tune into the first ever global Escape Room World Championships this weekend in Budapest!



If you’re an escape room enthusiast, then your weekend plans are already sorted.

This weekend sees 24 teams from around the world compete in the first ever global escape room competition being hosted by Red Bull. Teams will battle it out over two semi-final days, with the tops teams then moving onto the finals on March 25th.

To catch all the action, you’ll need to tune into Red Bull TV by downloading their app.

For iPhone users: iTunes Store
For Android users: Google’s Play Store

If you have an Amazon Kindle, Chromecast, AppleTV, Amazo TV, Playstation 3/4, XBox One/360, Samsung Blu-Ray or a Windows 10 – then check out Red Bull’s instruction page here to see how to download the Red Bull TV app.

Red Bull Mind Gamers – Escape Room World Championships
Date: Saturday 25th March 2017
Time: Starts 7pm (Budapest – Hungary; UTC+1)
| Other timezones:
Sun 5am Australia; Sun 2am Singapore;
Sat 6pm London; Sat 2pm Toronto – Canada/New York, Sat 11am Los Angeles |

Escape The Big Top – Escape Rooms now available on Norwegian Cruise Lines

Norwegian Cruise Lines are opening an escape room on four of their cruise ships. Escape The Big Top will allow passengers the chance to investigate a carnival gone bad.

The escape room is free to all onboard the cruise ship and passengers can reserve a one hour time slot for their group once onboard.

The escape room can be found on these Norwegian Cruise Line ships:
– Norwegian Getaway
– Norwegian Epic
– Norwegian Breakaway
– Norwegian Escape

On CruiseCritic, some guests have left comments about the escape room on Norwegian Cruise Lines and the experience doesn’t sound great so far.

– Ann W: Too hard, none of the groups were able to solve the puzzle. Takes an hour and would not do it again. [Aim] is to find out the magic words to open the locked trunk.

– David G: Nowhere near the quality of a real escape room. [You’re] sitting at tables with 6 others and about 10 tables in total, solving clues at the table, getting up to look [at] a few props and coming back.

This isn’t the first escape room on a cruise ship, with Puzzle Break’s Escape the Rubicon appearing on three different Royal Caribbean cruise ships last year.

One Last Break: Prison Break’s SXSW Escape Room on Instagram – Find the Cranes


This year’s SXSW (South by Southwest) Conference sees a range of tv shows and movies being made into escape rooms.

US tv channel FOX is taking over Escape Game Austin’s room for the weekend to run their Prison Break escape room. The free event will take place from March 11th – March 12th and fans will have one hour to escape the prison themed room.

For those who aren’t near Austin, Texas – FOX launched a digital escape room on Instagram last week. It’s called One Last Break and participants can explore 5 rooms to find 5 cranes (which represent freedom).

There’s 99, yes – 99 images to search through on Instagram and you’ll need to find the code to escape. For those who want to know what the reward is – it leads to an exclusive clip from the new season of Prison Break which includes Wentworth Miller’s character.
 
Star Wars: Rogue One
Also at SXSW is Disney’s version of an escape room called Rogue One: Escape From Scarif – which according to The Verge was more like a pop-up maze crossed with a scavenger hunt. Check out their review here.
 
A/N: Since February has wrapped up, the blog will be changing back to a weekly update on the weekend (Saturday/Sunday). 🙂

Essa 🙂

Escape Room Conferences in 2017

As the escape room industry grows bigger each year – more and more people are getting together to discuss their hobby and/or escape room business. Here’s a list of all the escape room conventions that are running in 2017. 🙂
 

Escape Games Convention
Date: March 19th – 20th 2017
Price: €130 – €280
Location: Stuttgart, Germany
Website: http://escapegamesconvention.de/

Escape Games Convention started in September 2015 and is focused on the escape room industry in Germany. Day 1 of the convention is for the escape room enthusiasts, while Day 2 caters more towards the escape room owners. Language used during the conference: German.
 

TransWorld’s Halloween & Attractions Show – Escape Room City
Date: March 23rd – 26th 2017
Price: Around $50 USD for one seminar; $225 USD for 5 seminars
Location: St Louis, Missouri, USA
Website: http://www.haashow.com/escape-room-city/

At TransWorld’s Halloween convention – Escape Room City is an area on the showfloor dedicated to the escape room industry. There are plenty of seminars over the four days, covering topics such as using actors, how to build an escape room, generation 2 escape rooms (getting rid of locks), advertising + working with brands and an escape room industry panel to wrap things up.

Companies which have representatives at this show include Room Escape Adventures, Puzzle Break, Escape Games Canada and Steel Owl Games (Escape The 1980s).

 

TransWorld’s Room Escape Conference & Tour
Date: May 1st – 5th 2017
Price: $25 USD registration, $215 USD for 5 seminars
Location: Niagara Falls, New York, USA
Website: http://www.roomescapeshow.com/

This conference is all about escape rooms when compared to Transworld’s other conference above. Be there on Monday morning (May 1st) to see the Room Escape Divas record a podcast in front of a live audience! Some speakers from TransWorld’s Escape Room City will also be speaking at this conference, plus Lisa & David from the Room Escape Artist team and 5Wits – known for their escape rooms which reset themselves.

 

Up The Game – Connecting Creators
Date: May 9th 2017
Price: €169 – €214
Location: Breda, The Netherlands
Website: http://upthegame.nl/

Back for its second year, Up The Game is an international escape room conference and they have an incredible speaker list this year. Some notable names include: Punchdrunk & Fire Hazard – both companies create immersive entertainment in the UK, Professor Scott Nicholson, the Escape Igloo team from Slovenia, the Room Escape Artist team, plus Mike who runs the escape room directory – Escape Rooms Netherlands.

+ Bonus: The Room Escape Artist have also written an article on Escape Room Trade Shows, Conferences and Unconferences – check it out here.

Israeli Air Force uses escape rooms to teach technical skills to soldiers

israel_airforce_escape_room

The Israeli Air Force decided to look into new ways of teaching their students.

As a result, a panel was created to conduct research into different escape rooms in Israel and gather plenty of ideas.

In late January, the first escape room was opened at an Israeli Air Force technical training base. After soldiers undertake a ten week training course, the material they learn is then put to the test in the escape room.

“According to the [panel], the escape room was designed to train the soldiers to work under pressure and as a team. In addition, the room challenges the soldiers with real-life situations that they will face when they finish their training at the base.” – JerusalemOnline.

The escape room experience acts as a final test as soldiers partake in the activity during the last week of their training. In addition, the escape room is filled with cameras where senior officials monitor the student responses to the unfolding situation. Check out footage of the escape room here.

Here’s what is publicly known about this escape room –
– There’s five phases in the escape room
– It starts with the soldiers watching an introduction video of an official talking about the need for speed and professionalism
–  In the escape room – soldiers enter the inside of a plane and need to discover, then fix any plane problems they come across. The tools they require are made available to them in the escape room.
– The goal is to find a key and to proceed to the next room in the game.

Source: JerusalemOnline

We dig into the #RedBullMindGamers World Finals – event logistics, Enoch and what’s in the escape room

redbull_infographic

There’s been plenty of discussion about the upcoming Red Bull escape room event – this week we delve into what awaits players in Budapest via some internet sleuthing.
 
 
How the event will be organised
Two new infographics were released this week on the Red Bull content pool website which reveals some new details – check out infographic one here and infographic two here.

Infographic two reveals March 23rd and 24th are locked in as semi-final days for the competition. With twenty four teams heading to compete in Budapest, the assumption is twelve teams will battle it out each day. Having so many teams competing each day, we can’t imagine a 60 minute escape room game for each team to play – perhaps a 30 or 45 minute game instead.

And the most revealing piece of information the infographic tells us –

“The best 2 teams battle it out at the world finals on March 25th”.

Could this mean that only the top team from each semi-final day will proceed to the finals on March 25th? And furthermore as the finals will be streamed on the internet, viewers will only see two teams compete via the Red Bull app.
 
 
What players are really competing against – Enoch
We already know from the Red Bull website that for players (or mind gamers) the mission is to Unlock Enoch. Upon digging further through the website – Enoch is revealed to be a name for the world’s most powerful quantum computer.

Not much information is known about Enoch but check out this quote from a recent Red Bull article –

“But in a gaming environment that’s half-analogue, half-digital, the Red Bull Mind Gamers finalists won’t only have logic puzzles to deal with. Enoch – the brainchild of Canadian Scott Nicholson … will actively manipulate and drive them crazy. … It will be exciting to see if Enoch can be beaten”
The Great Escape, p.80

We’re getting a GLaDOs / HAL 9000 / Pony Island type of vibe here – Enoch seems to be a very smart (and manipulative) computer that will challenge teams by getting in their way. It seems teams will not only have to solve puzzles but also deal with a challenger that will work against them and potentially sabotage them in the competition.

A/N: Professor Scott Nicholson has been in contact and has also pointed out Enoch is part of the Mind Gamers movie.
 
 
What’s in the game … and not in the game

“It’s the first escape room based on quantum logic, and is designed to challenge 4 problem-solving skills: creativity, logic, visual thinking and strategy. Players are encouraged to communicate frequently and divide tasks efficiently in order to solve all the mysteries and challenges before time runs out. It has physical and mental aspects to many of the challenges, inspired by challenges on reality television.” – Red Bull FAQ

Teams will benefit from nominating a clear team leader and then dividing tasks between team members. Despite time pressures in the game, teams with good communication and the ability to work well together will stand out above the pack. As the saying goes – you’re only as fast as your slowest person. Stick together.

“Nicholson explains that the World Finals takes inspiration from modern escape room design, with an emphasis on team-based challenges: “Our goal was to create challenges that made sense within the world of quantum computing, combine physical and mental elements, convey a consistent story, reduce dependence on a specific language, and be engaging for viewers,” says the designer, who was a visiting professor at MIT, and is a Professor of Game Design and Development at the BGNlab at Canada’s Wilfrid Laurier University in Brantford, Ontario. “We de-emphasized the typical searching elements and quiet cerebral puzzles, avoided padlocks and black lights, and instead thought about ways to embrace the concept of challenging the body and mind.”” – Red Bull Article

It’s interesting to read that padlocks and blacklights will not be seen in the Red Bull escape room – two things commonly found in a typical escape room. Plus we can’t wait to see what “engaging for viewers” will mean when the Red Bull escape room finals are streamed! Will viewers be able to influence the escape room? 😀
 
 
Additional – Red Bull Vlog
There’s a couple of short videos with Professor Scott Nicholson talking about a range of topics in relation to the Red Bull Escape Room Finals. Well worth a peek into.

1. History of Escape Rooms

2. About the Red Bull Mind Gamers project

3. The Design Process

4. The Team

5. Creating a Team for an Escape Room

6. Bringing the design to life

Also the last wildcard team will be determined soon as the Red Bull competition for the DxM wildcard competition closes at midnight PST tonight.

– Essa 🙂