GCHQ’s Fiendish Christmas Puzzle Book for 2016 – A licence to puzzle

Last Christmas, GCHQ – the codebreaking department of the UK government – released a puzzle in the director’s Christmas card. The puzzle was a nonogram, also known as a picross and it received widespread media attention, as it was called “the world’s hardest puzzle”. Read up on it here.

Some of the best codebreakers at GCHQ have been working hard to create this year’s puzzle, as it was released in conjunction with a GCHQ puzzle book.

The first stage of the puzzle starts with the image below – a Sudoku puzzle adapted to contain 9 letters instead of numbers and a grid of famous faces. If you get stuck on the below puzzle, check this
Reddit sub for some clues. Solve the two puzzles to unlock a website address and proceed to the next stage of the competition.


In addition, the GCHQ puzzle book is a necessary companion to the competition and contains “ciphers and substitution codes, tests of numeracy and literacy as well as picture and music challenges.” – GCHQ.

Plus HRH Duchess of Cambridge – Kate Middleton, wrote the foreword to the book and reveals her grandmother worked at Bletchley Park during World War II. Sales of GCHQ’s puzzle book will go to a mental health charity set up by Kate, William and Harry.

Get codebreaking ASAP as this year’s competition closes on February 28th 2017.


//Other Escape Room News
– Endgame: The third and final book in the Endgame series is being released on December 27th 2016.
As it stands, no one has yet claimed the prize money for the second novel, Sky Key.

– Captain America (Chris Evans) has released a competition to raise funds for charity. If you are the lucky winner, you and three friends will get flown to Boston in the US to play an escape room with him. It’s $10 USD for 100 competition entries and more information can be found on the omaze website.

– Essa🙂

PAX Australia 2016 Escape Room Panel and 5 Min Q&A with Escape Rossio team


PAX Australia – The Past, Present and Future of Live Action Escape Games

For the second year running, the escape room panel at PAX Australia is a great insight into into what’s happening within the escape room industry in Australia. The Lock Me If You Can team were in attendance and have a great summary of the panel here while the entire one hour panel can be seen on Youtube here.

The panel covered topics in escape room classification, puzzle design and how virtual reality/artificial intelligence could be adapted for use in escape rooms.

Also during the panel – a representative from Labryinth Rooms discussed developing a large multiplayer game for Australia! It would involve actors as zombies with a tentative date of April 2017. To deal with large numbers of players within the game, the team are looking at SCRAP’s model and are looking into visual puzzles or interactive actor puzzles (eg. distract a zombie).


5 Minute Q&A with Escape Rossio team

The team behind Escape Rossio in Portugal did a mini Q&A for the blog recently –

– What inspired you to create your escape room (tv shows, movies)?
First of all, books and movies from Dan Brown. These are the main inspirations.

We enjoy following leads and clues. To find mysteries and investigate. For several years we studied cosmogony, conspiracies and historical secrets. Our escape room allows us to share in a scenic, immersive and interactive way – all the conclusions from our investigations.

– If you could create an escape room about anything, what would it be about?

We currently have one escape game. The objective is not exactly to escape but to reach the end of an ancient ritual. Therefore we would create our next room also thinking about this objective.
As we found the Illuminati theme to be rather good and interesting, we would probably stick to it.

Our escape room offers the experience of the first steps into an Illuminati Order so we would try to find place for the upcoming steps. There are many degrees and their history is vast so we could make several escape rooms based on those with different rituals, enigmas, scenarios, etc.

Also there is a particular part which we love, and that is that Lisbon is one of three sacred cities for the Illuminati, being the others: Jerusalem and Rome. We can’t currently proceed to those places but we would definitely love to create two more escape rooms in those cities.


Other Escape Room News:
– The Escape Hunt Group has been acquired for USD $23.5 million in November 2016, covering 207 escape rooms and 46 brick-and-mortar stores located in 27 different countries (Source).


Holiday Hole: 2016 Black Friday Stunt by the Cards Against Humanity team this weekend


Help dig a hole this weekend.

For this year’s Black Friday event, the Cards Against Humanity team is asking for donations … to dig a large hole in the ground. If this doesn’t sound ridiculous enough, the hole has also been given a name – the Holiday Hole.

For some background, Cards Against Humanity is a card game where a question or an open statement is drawn from a pile of black cards. Each player initially gets ten white cards and responds by choosing an answer printed on a white card. The best answer wins, the winning player gets one Awesome Point and the next round starts.

The FAQ section is an entertaining read about the hole digging activities going on –

Where is the hole?
America. And in our hearts.

Is there some sort of deeper meaning or purpose to the hole?

What do I get for contributing money to the hole?
A deeper hole. What else are you going to buy, an iPod?

What if you dig so deep you hit hot magma?
At least then we’d feel something.– HolidayHole.com


The Holiday Hole is still livestreaming at the moment … and for the next 29 hours.


For last year’s Black Friday event, the Cards Against Humanity team asked people to donate $5 USD … in return for nothing. The money was split amongst the team and each person mentioned what they used it for – PlayStations and some donations to various charities. In 2014, the team sold cow poop as a Black Friday joke.

Essa 🙂


Heist Party – Create a DIY Escape Room at home, just print and play!


Designing an escape room is hard work. What if you could easily create, design and print out puzzles?

Check out Heist Party which has created three downloadable escape room kits –

Escape Quest is designed for kids aged around 5 to 13 years old. Take them on a time travel adventure of earth for 30 mins!

Grand Theft Antimatter caters for teenagers/adults and is set in the future where you need to complete the treacherous mission to take out the W.A.R. (Warhead Antimatter Response) facility.

Escape Room Z involves zombies who after your pizza – how will you escape them when you’re stuck in a building on the 28th floor?

Purchase an escape room kit, print out the puzzle cards that come with the kit and then set up your escape room at home!

All escape room kits come with a Builder’s Kit – a Powerpoint presentation that can be edited for players to create new clues and quickly a new escape room is created.

Plus there’s additional resources on the Heist Party site for any escape room enthusaist, The Cipher Playbook, a list of cipher ideas and explanations; different types of locks that appear in escape rooms and some print at home treasure maps.

Here’s what Elliot, the creator of Heist Party says inspired him to create these escape room kits –
“I’ve always loved puzzles, treasure maps, and all that jazz. Back when I was a kid I loved a series of Discworld themed computer games that were frustratingly difficult (well ok… they were hard for a 10 year old).

Then a couple of years ago I met (my now wife) Amanda and made a whole bunch of treasure hunts for her to solve as date activities. They were a total blast and I wanted to take it one step further by making an escape game just for her.”

Website: http://heistparty.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/heistparty/

Final thanks to Ken who runs The Logics Escapes Me for this blog recommendation!


Red Bull Escape Room World Finals – Budapest, February 2017 #redbullmindgamers


Imagine a future where escape games are a competitive e-sport. Thousands of people in huge arenas or in online chat rooms, watch on as teams battle against each other in escape game tournaments across the globe.

How did this idea start off?
At the 2015 MIT Game Jam, students were given a scenario – how to create a global escape room game. The ideas developed from the game jam were reviewed by a panel and a multi-level game was developed.

Red Bull Mind Gamers Website
As of this week, news of the Red Bull Mind Gamers, Mission: Unlock Enoch competition spread like wildfire. Qualification events to get into the competition are now open to 50+ cities across the globe. 44 events in Europe, 2 events in Asia, 9 events in the Middle East and 13 events across the US.

Sadly, there’s no local qualifier events in Australia or even Canada as ExExitGames has pointed out.


How to qualify for the competition –
There are currently two ways to get into the competition: local qualifier entry or wild card entry.

– Local Qualifier Entry
– Head to the Red Bull Mind Gamers website and choose the Local Qualifier option. You’ll need to play through the online game and if successful, you’ll then go to the local qualifier event.

At the local qualifier event, you and three friends compete to unlock a digital cube with a puzzle on it. The puzzle reacts in real time, allowing all team members to interact with the puzzle at once. Each top team at the local qualifier event will then gets tickets to the world finals.

– Wildcard Entry
– If your country isn’t hosting a local qualifier event, there’s another way to get into the competition.
Play the Red Bull WildCard game, which has ten rounds of puzzles. The top four online players will form the wildcard team and attend the escape room world finals. Get all the practice you can with the top four places currently occupied with times of 46 secs – 55 secs, after completing all ten puzzles.

Besides the qualifier games, there are additional games to play on the Red Bull Mind Gamers website covering six areas: Strategy, Visual, Creativity, Logic, Music and Memory.

Wildcard qualification closes on January 15th 2017.


Escape Room World Finals – Budapest
What awaits the lucky teams in the world finals being held in Budapest, Hungary next year?
“an ultimate mixed reality Escape Room Tournament” with the “… world’s best mind gamers to tackle the ultimate challenge: to unlock a quantum escape room.” – Red Bull Mind Gamers website.

What could a quantum escape room hold?
Herb – A time travel theme?
Chris – A quantum theme to tie into the Mind Gamers movie?
Essa – Or perhaps it refers to the multiplayer aspect of an escape room, with each team member contributing their equal share of knowledge and skills?


Update 26th Nov 2016:
The Escape Room World Finals will be held between Febuary 22nd and February 26th 2017.
And what does the winning team get? A 3 day trip to Boston, USA.

Let the mind games begin! (And may the escape room odds be ever in your favour).

Website: http://redbullmindgamers.com/

– Essa🙂

Framed, the world’s first escape room murder mystery streamed on Facebook Live


On the night shift, the security guard takes a quick break before commencing his nightly patrol of the art gallery. A normal and quiet night on the job at first – then he finds a dead body on the floor. The door to exit the room is stuck. The guard is trapped in the room – what will the audience decide?

Framed was an interactive mystery streamed on Facebook in early October. In 30 minutes, people tuned into the live stream could help the guard figure out what happened before he would become the main murder suspect.

Moderators asked the audience to vote for one of two actions that the guard could perform in the room and watch what happened in real-time. This was due to the camera that the guard wore on his head – giving a first hand perspective of what was going on in the room.

The producers of this interactive mystery were inspired by the feeling you get, when you’re at home and you try to solve the detective mystery on the television before the detective on the show can. There were also hints the live stream contained some hidden easter eggs too.

Even though the event was back in October, the whole live stream is still up on Facebook and is re-watchable at the link below. The comments section also updates as if the video is real time which is a neat feature.


Of interest, Framed was written by David Varela – who turns out to have contributed to some very cool projects including – Perplex City (ARG) and the mobile games – Zombies, Run! and Sherlock: The Network.


// Other Escape Room News
The murder mystery x escape rooms genre isn’t going to disappear any time soon with Youtube series, Escape The Night, being renewed for a second season. In 2017, Youtuber Joey Graceffa will host the next dinner party with ten new cast members. According to the press release, the first series receive over 1.1 billion impressions on social media!

– Essa🙂


TV shows to binge watch on Halloween: Dracula – Escape the Castle and Hellevator

Happy Halloween! If you’re looking to binge watch some creepy tv shows that will test your undead brain power, look no further –

Dracula, Escape the Castle (TV Show – 2016)
Who can survive a night in Castle Dracula? The tv series takes place at night in an old Romanian castle where two teams are trapped for the night. Creepy challenges await the teams as they need to move from room to room, solving three rounds of challenges before they can make their escape. Catch up on the series – eleven episodes – on the insight.tv website.

Horror Level:

Hellevator (TV Show – 2015)
Teams of four people step into a haunted elevator that drops down into a gruesome slaughterhouse and must overcome floors filled with horror challenges to move to the finale, The Inferno. In Season 2, each episode has a different challenge inspired by one of the Seven Deadly Sins such as pride, envy, gluttony, lust, wrath, greed and sloth. Are the players doomed once they enter the Hellevator? Catch up on the series – via Youtube.

Horror Level:


//Other Escape Room News

Escape Room Addict – Ask the Expert Contest
Have a burning escape room question and want to win tickets to an escape room? Enter the contest with any escape room related question and be in the running to win a prize pack of four tickets to an escape room. Contest is opened to residents of the USA and Canada with entries closing on November 3rd.

Ask the Expert Contest

Fall Porch – INscape
Check out this escape room that was created on a person’s porch! Before entering the party inside the house – the creator’s friends had to solve the puzzles located on the porch and find four digits to unlock the front door.

Imgur Link