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

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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

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

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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 🙂

What’s the funniest thing you have done in an escape room? Part Two

There’s even more funny escape room stories to tell this week. 🙂 Catch up on last week’s stories here and also enjoy Part Two in this blog!

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

Escape Room Addict
Hands down funniest thing I can remember: The ERA team is a brilliant collection of puzzle solvers – so much so that one time we couldn’t solve the 3-digit combination for the EMERGENCY PHONE lock, (and yes the famous numbers were visible in big bold red letters right in front of our faces…when we called in a clue the owner nearly peed himself laughing!)

S-capegoats
The scary rooms are the funniest on hindsight. I mean, just imagine sitting at the camera and watching the entire s-capegoats team jump into a corner because of a jump-scare. Also, tickling people with feather dusters in creepy rooms.

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J, Escaping SG
I’ve played some rooms with great senses of humour, including one where a scrapbook told the touching (and hilarious) story of a lonely artist and his (toy) dog, and another where riding a bicycle resulted in… extremely appropriate background music. But one of the funniest moments was courtesy of a zealous team-mate. We’d stalled at an early stage, so he decided to investigate — and then attempt to wield — a fire extinguisher that was clearly not part of the room’s theme. We managed to get him to put it down just before a flustered gamemaster intervened…

Herb, EscapistTO
In recent memory, I was playing a relatively new escape room where the owner had accidentally left a broom in the game. I started sweeping. At some point, I had to stop to continue playing, and I propped it up against a table. A little bit later, my teammates activated a tech ‘cutscene’ where the lights turned off! At the same time, the broom fell on someone, and then clattered to the floor.  10/10..

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Trapspringer, Lock Me If You Can
We were playing a very physically active game with a drug cartel theme. It was fun and very well decorated, so we were really into it. By the end, there were (notional) thugs after us, and our mission was to leave the joint with passports to leave the country and whatever loot we can find. So were frantically stashing as much we could in a go-bag and as we closed in on the end of the game, I ran to the last door with a friend. For some reason Pá stayed behind. It actually sounded like she had ran back into the cartel hideout! Me and our friend could have escaped, but we decided to wait at the door for her, puzzled by the situation.

When she appeared, a less than a minute later and kinda crawling on the floor, her hair was messy and her clothes where all stretched out with very weird lumps. Her eyes were shining in excitement. “We could not leave these things behind!”, she yelled.

The gamemaster was laughing hysterically when we left TWELVE plastic rifles, 20 golden items, drugs, passports and approximately 2 million dollars in fake notes from inside Pa’s clothes. (She is only 1.55m / 5 ft tall).

William, Escape Room Tips
Once in an escape room, I put my mouth on a whistle-like object and blew. After realizing that air wouldn’t go through, I found out that I had been blowing on some sort of spring mechanism that had come loose from a pop-up cabinet. I spent the next minute trying to clean my tongue. Responsibly, I put the spring mechanism back where it belonged.

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Essa, Intervirals
The escape room had a Mission Impossible theme and my team had made it to the second room. There was a locked jail door in the room and upon searching for the key, it was spotted – a couple of metres into the locked room. The only thing given to us was a piece of rope to try and get the key.

However one of the team had the brilliant idea to take off their shoe and then tie the rope to the shoe. Our team had tears in our eyes from laughing so hard. This was impossible. The first attempt throwing the shoe didn’t work. Someone in the team asked what would we do if we lost the shoe. We tried to convince her the gamemaster would hopefully get it back afterwards.

After a couple more throws of the shoe with the rope attached, the key was accidentally pushed further into the room. We didn’t give up. A couple more attempts later, the impossible happened – the shoe landed on the key! And ever so slowly, we pulled the rope back through the bars of the jail door. The key came close enough to the door so we could pick it up. The shoe also successfully came back.

If the shoe fits, then sometimes you have to throw it.

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 🙂