What Dyson’s #SmartRooms challenge can teach the #RedBullMindGamers team and other online escape room competitions

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Two weekends ago Dyson held their Smart Rooms challenge, an escape room that was streamed online via Twitch.

After watching teams play over two days, this blog covers some key points that organisers need to be aware of when streaming an escape room competition online.*

(*Especially as the Red Bull Escape Room World Finals in March will be available to watch online and as more escape room competitions are streamed to an online audience over time).
 
Put lapel microphones on all the players in the escape room
There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to hear clear audio from the players in an escape room. The viewer’s experience is diminished and viewers will not stay around to watch if they can’t hear what’s going. Please don’t make people turn up their computer volume to 93/100 at midnight on a Sunday. *cough*
 
Ensure the escape room has good lighting and keep dark areas to a minimum
Dyson’s escape room required a semi-dark room to execute its escape room concept – the walls could reassemble between games to represent different areas of a house. Despite this challenge, enough light sources were placed around the room to ensure the players could be seen as they moved around.
 
Have multiple camera angles in an escape room and avoid #CrotchCam moments
There were about three to four cameras in the Smart Rooms challenge which covered different areas of the room. Hilariously (and unfortunately) there was one camera that was situated at waist height and players who wandered too close to one of the walls gave the camera a certain eyeful. The chat quickly dubbed this #CrotchCam as a consequence.

In terms of video quality, the Twitch stream was good – Intervirals didn’t catch any moments where the video stream suddenly stopped while a team was playing. There were some technical hiccups before some teams started but this was smoothed over with a “We’ll be back soon” loading screen and attentive moderators in the chat.
 
Watching good teams in an escape room was awesome, bad teams not really
It was surprising to learn that watching an escape room competition online was … really fun. It was similar to watching a movie and seeing the protagonists work through challenges to progress through the story. Conversely watching a not so great team – ie. those who stood around, arms crossed and who were not actively engaging with the room (searching, trying to solve a puzzle) – wasn’t great.
 
Later starting teams may have more advantages
In the Smart Rooms chat it became known some teams that were scheduled on the second day of competition were able to view the Twitch stream the day before. These teams gained a knowledge advantage over their competitors and may have outperformed other teams on the day.

Also related to this point, if the same escape room is used by multiple teams – it must be reset properly to ensure later teams don’t get an additional advantage eg. number locks or letter locks.
 
Encourage engagement (like, share, hashtag) on social media
If there’s an official hashtag – get the word out! The experience becomes more engaging for viewers and in-person participants who may get to see other parts of the escape room event they might have missed.
 
 
These three following observations were unique features of the Smart Rooms competition so they are side notes to the main points above.

Online viewers get to influence the escape room game
What made the Smart Rooms challenge stand out was that it valued having an online audience. For example, viewers in the chat room could participate in polls or give their opinion on what the team in the escape room should do next. The participants in the chat room could see that regardless of where they were, they could have an impact on the escape room game. 10/10.
 
#Sassy Moderators
The moderators on the Twitch stream were on point – when bad comments appeared, they were quick to respond. Another time, chat discussion turned to what countries everyone was from and the Smart Room moderators jumped in – mentioning Dyson was a global company that could be found in plenty of countries around the world. And they also ran with the chat’s jokes on Cactus Sam, Jerry and Jeff. (There was a cactus in one of the Smart Rooms and it became an ongoing joke).

1000/10 would recommend. Take note – good moderators in an online chat can make the viewer experience.
 
Mail in the Oven moments (or things get lost in translation over the internet)
One of the best moments from the Dyson’s Smart Rooms challenge came when a team was solving a puzzle in the Kitchen room. As the challenge progressed, it was interrupted by the day’s mail delivery and the team in the room received a new item – mail.

It was a humorous moment to then watch the team … put the mail into the oven. As a moderator kindly pointed out, the mail was delivering a component for the oven and that was the reason the mail ended up in the oven.

Accept that some puzzle design elements of the escape room will be lost on an online audience. 😀
 
 
TL;DR: If you’re streaming an escape room competition online, remember: clear audio and video, good lighting and multiple camera angles of the escape room.

Essa 🙂
 

Intervirals’ celebrates its third birthday! We ask some friends – What’s the funniest thing you have done in an escape room?

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Its our third blog birthday today! *throws confetti around*

Each year Intervirals reaches out to other escape room bloggers and asks them a new question. Last time, we asked our friends what type of escape room they would design. After many days of pondering, a new question was thought up.

This year’s question is the most challenging yet. 😉

What’s the funniest thing that you have experienced in an escape room?

Enjoy! Part Two will be released next Thursday (23rd Feb) with even more stories!

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Ken, The Logic Escapes Me
– getting me to perform a bona fide magic trick (and really not knowing how I’d managed to do it)
– a room with four tonnes of sand
– a room with a hatch that had a six foot drop and no safety railing.
– a slide to transition between rooms
– a popup escape room in a shop where we had to remove the floorboards
– a room where it started raining as part of the game
– a room where an Alien chased up through a spaceship and eventually appeared in the roof…
– a 10m long buzzwire game…
– getting to the penultimate puzzle in a room after 12 minutes, getting stuck and then being told we had to wait another half an hour if we wanted a clue…

Mike, Escape Games Review, The Codex
I think a big part of our experiences has been the people we play with. With the #REDivas (Room Escape Divas) it was the first time I discovered a habit of another player. While searching I discovered a pair of shoes on the ground that nobody seemed to notice. I put my hand in it and found it was oddly warm. Excited with my new find I shared it with the Divas when Errol said “Oh that’s my shoe”. I quickly dropped the shoe and noticed he was shoeless. Now I know to always ask first, examine later.

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Errol, The Codex
I love playing with my team, and funniest moments happen because of our interactions together. For me, I find it quite amusing when we fail for utterly silly reasons. I like taking off my shoes, and in one room, I just happened to hang them on a hook, not realizing I was covering up clues. Manda was not really happy with me. I thought it was hilarious after the fact. ^_^

Lisa and David, Room Escape Artist
Very early in our days as reviewers we played a game that was built in a space that was previously a medical doctor’s office. It had a lot of built in furniture that is common in American doctor’s offices.

Our team really hit its stride and we were on a record-breaking pace for the first time ever (back when we cared about such things). We were puzzling hard and searching even harder… too hard. I pulled some of the drawers out of the built in furniture and underneath the bottom drawer was some paperwork and a sealed test tube with yellow liquid in it.

Now, you have to understand that I was in a serious flow-state and I had never encountered an object in an escape room that didn’t belong. I didn’t question it. I immediately started inspecting the vial and reading the paperwork, desperately trying to decipher its hidden meaning… when a voice came over the hint system frantically saying, “THAT’S NOT OURS! PUT IT DOWN!.”

It was a urine sample lost by the doctor’s office. The paperwork was the corresponding test request forms. Upon escape, I washed my hands more thoroughly than I ever had in my life. I’m so glad I didn’t open it.

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Chris, ExExitGames UK
I was playing a room themed around time travel in a team with three other men; three politically very moderate men. We moved on to a new time and space within the game and started solving puzzles. Authentic-sounding music was playing, creakily, in the background. It then moved onto a tune where we all knew at least some of the words and we all spontaneously started singing at the tops of our low voices. The problem? This part of the game was set in Nazi Germany and we got as far as “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, Über alles in der Welt…”.

Mark, Really Fun UK
Much to my chagrin one of our favourite sites was known amongst my team as “the one where Mark hung his coat over the keys”. But after a recent visit it’s now known as “the one where Richard lost his glasses because he was so surprised”. I wish I could tell you more because it’s making me laugh just thinking about it! I love a surprise in an escape room.

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Second Chance: Qualify for the 2nd Wildcard team at the Red Bull Escape Room World Finals #redbullmindgamers

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For four lucky players there’s still one more way to get into the Red Bull Escape Room World Finals.

Local qualifier events in 22 countries have now closed, with the top team from each country qualifying for the March finals, in Budapest. Only one Wildcard team was thought to be heading to compete – but there’s good news.

A second Wildcard team will be chosen via the DxM Wildcard competition on the Red Bull Mind Gamers website.

Solve the five DxM Wildcard puzzles on the website and you’ll be entered into a random draw to win one of the four available spots on the second Wildcard team.

The DxM Wildcard competition closes on February 25th, 2017.

-Essa 🙂

 

What happened at the Ontario Escape Room Unconference 2017 #eru17

Over the last two days, the Ontario Escape Room Unconference for 2017 was held in Canada.

To see some of the awesome presentations from the Unconference, check out Errol’s presentation on puzzle design and Manda’s presentation about storyline/plot in escape rooms, here. There’s also a Google Document with some notes from the event by Professor Scott Nicholson too.

So here are some of the best Tweets that cover what happened during the two day event:

– Essa 🙂

The #SmartRooms – Dyson challenges British public to Internet of Things escape game

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After posting a cryptic video on their Youtube video, Dyson invited the general public to solve a puzzle they had set.

British teams who could solve the puzzle will compete this weekend in The Smart Rooms, an escape game that moves between different rooms of a house and is filled with internet connected appliances. Even better, is the challenge will be streamed on Twitch and teams can ask users in the Twitch chat room for help.

When players enter The Smart Room – it’s dark with illuminating wall strips that outline furniture in a room. After the room’s challenge has been solved, the walls change to resemble another room in a house for the next puzzle. Rooms to be included in the game include a kid’s bedroom, a kitchen and a living room.

The event will run from 10am – 8pm (London GMT) this Saturday and Sunday. As of posting, the Twitch stream is on a lunch break and another four teams will play this Saturday afternoon. Will you help or hinder the players? 😀

www.twitch.tv/smartrooms

 

Updates: Final Fantasy, Legend of Zelda, Resident Evil and Attack on Titan escape games/rooms

The people behind SCRAP and Umbrella Corporation must be working overtime as there’s been plenty of new developments and discoveries this week.

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Legend of Zelda – Canada
Nintendo Canada revealed on Tuesday their Legend of Zelda escape game, called Defenders of the Triforce will have an extended tour. After visiting select US cities, the Legend of Zelda escape game will then visit Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal in Canada.

Dates and locations for the Canadian leg of the tour have not yet been released by SCRAP.

http://scrapzelda.com/

Note: This event isn’t an escape room – it’s a live puzzle event, where teams of people sit in a large room and solve puzzles at a table. A team member will have to get up and visit the correct area to have the team’s answers checked.

Engadget has a spoiler-filled write up of their recent experience playing the Legend of Zelda event in Los Angeles, which you can read here.

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Final Fantasy XXIV (14) – US Tour
Then on Wednesday, SCRAP announced plans to bring their Final Fantasy XXIV escape game to the United States after it’s run in Japan.

Trial of Bahamut will see teams of six players have a time limit of sixty minutes to save the world from the dragon, Bahamut. Can your Warriors of Light party save the land of Eorzea once more?

The website says coming Summer 2017 – so keep an eye on the website as the earliest start date could be sometime in June. Eight US cities will be visited during the tour: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Phoenix, Houston, Orlando, Chicago and New York.

http://realescapegame.com/ffxiv/

Similarly, this event isn’t an escape room – it’s another live puzzle event that SCRAP is producing which sees teams sit at tables and work through puzzles.

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Attack on Titan Escape Room – Los Angeles
Last week saw the opening of a permanent Attack on Titan escape room by SCRAP in Little Tokyo, LA.  Real Escape Game: Castle Under Siege follows a similar story line to their previous Attack on Titan events that were only available for a limited run (a few weeks maximum).

Up to 10 players can take up the challenge of joining the Survey Corps and defending the city from the attacking Titans. Plus the escape room is “replayable”, which allows players to come back and experience a different set of puzzles.

http://realescapegame.com/aotla

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Resident Evil Escape Rooms – Germany & The Netherlands

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard/The Experience Game

The Resident Evil escape room is going on a US tour and additionally making its way into more countries – with it being available in Germany as of Spring 2017 (which is now!). Capcom Europe have tapped TeamEscape, to bring the Resident Evil experience to Hamburg and Cologne, with additional cities in Germany still to be advised.

Resident Evil: Movie
Universal Pictures Netherlands have worked together with Zombie Escape Netherlands to change one of their rooms into a Resident Evil: The Final Chapter escape room, as part of the upcoming Resident Evil movie release. The experience ends February 20th and for more information see their website.

As VRNerd advises, you should probably bring a towel to wipe away the fear sweat after any Resident Evil experience.

-Essa 🙂

Resident Evil Escape Room: LA, UK – now 2017 Nationwide USA Tour

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The Resident Evil franchise is continuing their 20th anniversary celebrations this year, after its escape room had a successful run in Los Angeles, followed by another stint in London two weeks ago. More exciting news has emerged, with the Resident Evil 7: Escape Experience going on a tour of six US cities in the coming weeks.

– San Francisco, Los Angeles: February 8th – March 5th 2017
– Portland, Oregon: February 8th – March 5th 2017
– Boston, Massachusetts: February 22nd – March 19th 2017
– New York, New York City: February 22nd – March 19th 2017
– Austin, Texas: March 8th – April 2nd 2017
– Chicago, Illinois: March 8th – April 2nd 2017

Tickets are $35 USD per person, except for San Francisco and New York where tickets are $40 USD per person instead.

https://www.eventbrite.com/o/capcom-iam8bit-11982654513

The Immersive London blog has a write up of their recent experience of the Resident Evil escape room when it visited London’s East End. Plenty of spoilers ahead – read it on their blog here.

 

// Other Escape Room News
Jerudong Park Diamond Heist Mystery – Brunei
The largest escape room event in Brunei” took place from December 16th – 24th 2016. More than 800 people took part in an investigation to discover the thief who stole a diamond from Jerudong Park. Escape room company, Escape Square Gadong collaborated with other businesses for the event.

 

Escape Rooms used for leadership and recruitment at Wayfair, an online home interior business
The company have created their own version called Escape the Room and use it to train staff –
“Wayfair originally used it as a team building and problem solving activity on leadership ‘away days’. However, given how much fun it was and the changing nature of the skills and the people they are looking for they decided to introduce it as part of their customer service recruitment process.”
CustomerThink

– Essa 🙂