The escape room craze?

The Crystal Maze

I do find the whole escape room thing a little odd, mainly because when I first heard about it I thought of something more like the movie Cube (less cube 2 and cube 0) . The reality is far less dangerous of course, but they also lack the lateral thinking which more excites me. Maybe this is why I find The Cube (how ironic) a little more interesting in this regards?

The Crystal maze is pretty much a series of escape rooms dressed up – let’s be honest! Due to the cult popularity and the mad rush for escape room experiences; its back without Richard O’Brian of course.

Someone at ARGnet has wrote a piece analysing the rise of the escape room. It doesn’t go into much detail but an interesting short read regardless. I find it interesting how big the craze of escape rooms has moved and so quickly. I was listening to some people in Tallinn, Estonia talking about an escape room in the airport which prompted me to write my thoughts.

I’d love to see something more like Exam.

The final candidates for a highly desirable corporate job are locked together in an exam room and given a test so simple and confusing that tension begins to unravel.

More lateral and freeform. I’d also like to see people given roles (like Werewolf I guess, heck you could pay more to be the stodge?) to make things really interesting. Yes you could include stooges too.

Exam

Escape rooms currently feel too formulaic and logical, a bit like some of the less interesting Alternative Reality games which drag you from task to task rather than responding and giving you lots of space to think. I think there is a lot to learn from ARGs and maybe, who knows I’ll be raving about one…

Pokemon Go: Return of the ARG?

Looking out my window watching small groups of people playing Pokemon Go and listening to yet another podcast talking about it. I started thinking does the mainstream success of Pokemon Go, indicate it would be time for alternative reality gaming (ARG) to make a come back?

I mean there’s been a whole ton of successful ARGs in the past and the dynamics got watered/broken down into transmedia (which isn’t meant in disrespect, but a must read from Dan Hon); but they are quite different beasts (pun intended). Looking back at previous ARGs they didn’t take advantage of mobile. Mobile data was expensive and was quite unreliable back in the early days. This is before you even look at many of the other things mobile can give you.

Of course there’s a lot of debate if Pokemon Go is augmented realty or location based gaming. The later would put it in the same ball park of Google’s Ingress and many others. But does it matter? There will always be privacy concerns (here’s a fix for those early adopters) and those who seek to take advantage for their own gain; but it’s certainly getting people out and about, for now at least.

If I was to design a ARG say for example We Dream The City (swear I wrote about it somewhere, but maybe I haven’t yet? findery.com is close);  I would be using the phone and building in functionality which brings groups together into little adhoc clouds like Firechat. Pokemon go shows there is appetite for these types of games and the technology can scale to this extent. Now’s a good time to build these systems and hopefully think about what useful things we could do for local community and society, not just collecting virtual goods?

Emerging Tech Manchester #2: Games for good with Erik Lehmann

Erik Lehmann

After the great success of the First Emerging Tech Manchester a joint event with VR Manchester. Photos are up here on meetup.com.

We have the second #Etechmcr. This time we have the pleasure of hosting Erik Lehmann who is pioneering the game changer movement. I become aware of Erik and what he’s doing via Alex DS who introduced us.

We are looking at the wider future narrative of games for good through the work Erik has completed and doing at the game changer movement.

Its a free event thanks to the great hosts which are Rise Manchester, this time around. As we make use of the great spaces we have around Manchester.
Get it booked into your calendar for Monday March 21st between 7pm and 9pm and subscribe to the meetup group for more information around Eriks work and further events in the future.

 

 

What is the imdb party game?

A Shot, Anyone?

I played this game yesterday night at a party and thought it was worth writing up because I couldn’t find it anywhere. I’ll have to credit either Mike, Karolina,  Steve or Sharon for the party game.

The game works like this…

  1. Everybody sits in a circle with their mobile phones. One player  (the loser from the last round) picks a film from imdb.com. announces the film title and year to the circle.
  2. Everybody else types the predicted imdb rating of the film announced into their calculator app or write it down on paper.
  3. Once everybody (except the player who announced the film) is done, rating predictions are revealed to everybody around the group
  4. Highest and lowest are noted and the player who announced the film reads out the actual imdb rating.
  5. The player with the furthest rating from the imdb rating loses and needs to drink a shot of vodka. The loosing player then goes on to pick the next film in the next round.

Other rules…

  • Cheating by looking up the imdb rating is punishable by a double shot of vodka.
  • Players can challenge the player who announced the film title if its too obscure. That player must read out a description and the top actors in the film. If nobody recognises the top actors, another film must be picked.
  • If there is a draw of any kind, the players in the draw have to guess the rating of a sequel or prequel. If there is no such thing, a related film must be found.

Variations…

  • While people choose their rating, the film picker can read out the first public review, a quote or piece of trivia. Film covers can be shown of theme music played.
  • Vodka can be substituted for any other spirit or any other forfeit

Moo made, werewolf cards

Since I made werewolf cards way back when… I kept meaning to finish the set by ordering the rest of the pack.

Well finally after about a year, I ordered the rest and made them on Moo.com again. I got the feeling Moo might actually be phasing out their make your own feature, but thanks to Moo’s help and some URL hacking, I got it up again.

The complete pack splits down to two packs of…

  • 5 Witches
  • 5 Shape shifters
  • 5 Revivers
  • 5 Oracles
  • 5 Mediums
  • 5 Psychiatrists
  • 9 Hunters
  • 5 Cupids
  • 4 Healers
  • 4 Seers
  • 8 Werewolves
  • 37 Villagers
  • 3 Invalids

So in any game each pack can hold roughly (based on 1 werewolf per 4-6 villagers) 40 villagers and a whole bunch of special roles. To be fair the biggest game I’ve ever moderated has been 48 people in BarCampBlackpool and that was insane. One pack should give plenty of scope for interesting games and fun times.

Some of you may ask, wheres the little girl? I say to hell with the little girl… (smile)

I know the art work on the cards isn’t beautiful or creative as other werewolf projects such as Leeds Werewolf master Martyn. But there small simple to understand and easily carry-able in my laptop bag.

EPIC Werewolf time!!!

My parents were deeply worried that I was doing too much again. Specially after what happened to me with mybrushwithdeath almost two and half years ago. I can tell you and them that my blood pressure is normal…

So what have I been up to…? Because my blog has also suffered due to the hectic schedule.

On Tuesday 30th Connected Social and 31st EpicWerewolf…!

EPIC Werewolf

Epicwerewolf

The concept of Epic Werewolf was to run werewolf in two rooms.

One room would be kitted out with cameras and a normal game of werewolf would be going on. In the second room would be an audience watching live and some physiologists, behaviour scientists, experts watching along live and giving a running commentary on top of the live video. The people in the first room (the players) wouldn’t be able to hear the second room (the audience) but the second room would see and hear almost everything. All those little comments, subconscious ticks and obvious body actions would be exposed to an audience in a way which has only been seen in TV poker.

Great concept I thought and the Manchester science festival were interested too. However not interested enough to put any serious money behind it for a number of reasons. Because of this the idea had to scale down quickly. The interesting part is the game was originally going to be quite small to allow everyone a chance to have a go but we had to change that due to the amount of people who signed up and wanted to be players not the audience.

Epicwerewolf

We switched venues quite a bit and thought about a place with internet connectivity so we could broadcast it live to the internet. In the end we settled on Islington Mill in Salford because of the great spaces they have and how creepy it would be to go to deep dark Salford on Halloween.

Anyway the challenge which was worrying me was how to setup the cameras and computers. I had imagined using something like Ingex but we didn’t have resources or cameras. I came up with a number of solutions including using Skype, Hangouts, Bambuser, etc… but in the end I settled on the much easier streaming multiple Videolan’s VLC on my quad core i7 laptop to the weaker dual core Dell xps machine I still have. Everything was fine except I couldn’t get any of my decent cameras (Sanyo Xacti’s) to show up correctly. Meaning I only had 3 webcams including the build in one. I swear I had 2 at home but couldn’t find them even when searching the whole flat.

Epicwerewolf

On the day I setup 3 VLC services streaming and Vee from Larkin About used her macbook’s built in camera with Bambuser. On my Dell, I took advantage of the overview mode in Ubuntu 12.04 to show all cameras views and one of them being a browser window with Bambuser running from the Mac. However the problem seemed to be the mac would drop the wifi signal every 20mins or so. This was a pain but to add even more pain to the setup, my Dell laptop would get upset with the Flash plugin and throttle the CPU to death.

We pushed ahead anyway and by 6:30pm we had our first players. By about 7pm we had quite a few but no bar… We delayed while we tried to find out what happened to the barman and it turned out the barman was booked for 7:30pm not 7pm. So we started a 25 person game in the bar room and the another one next to it 10mins later to catch people who were running late. It was noisy and hard to hear people talking but it kind of worked out ok.

Those games came to a end about 8:30pm where we revealed what was so Epic about the night. Everyone was given a raffle ticket at the start of the night and between Larkin about and myself we pulled 12 numbers out of a cup and announced them over the pa system to the 50+ strong crowd.

The lucky 12 were lead to the 2nd room which was cold and slightly unnerving to play out a game of werewolf in front of the cameras. Our experts watched from the room and then came into the main room to talk through some of the things which were happening in the game. The problem we had was for the audience the cameras were not exciting enough in part because the of technical difficulties but also there just wasn’t enough to view. So instead we quickly had the experts give a quick overview of what they had seen and then a small Q&A about what not to do when playing werewolf. This was fascinating and made it clear there was more than just luck going on in a game of werewolf.

Massive thanks to Ben, Penny and Liz for being our experts for the night and giving us great insight into the silly things we all do without even noticing. Thanks also to Martin Rue, Mark Kirschstein and Larkin About for support through the night.

Epicwerewolf

After the Q&A we kicked off a series of werewolf games right through till the witching hour of midnight. We even had the barman involved in the last game.

It was a excellent night and I was amazed with the turn out of people. So many people and such a great vibe throughout. I only wished we could have got the epic part working smoothly. Well theres always next Halloween I guess?

Epicwerewolf

A bit of funding and who knows what we could great? Multiple rooms many cameras and many more types of sensors? Possibilities are endless! This is certainly not the end of #EpicWerewolf

Epic Werewolf – This Halloween…

EPIC Werewolf

This Halloween, there is only one place to be…

Four times the deception, four times the lies and four times the paranoia. It’s a social game which you can easily pick up but is impossible to master. This Halloween we show social engineering like never before…

Islington Mill for some Epic Werewolf with Larkin About… All part of the Manchester Science Festival

EPIC Werewolf – Halloween

EPIC Werewolf

Its coming… this Halloween, EPIC Werewolf

As part of the Manchester Science Festival, myself and Larkin About are going to take a look at Social engineering and Mob rule in the social game of Werewolf. Unlike most games of werewolf, we will feature running commentary from psychologists and behaviour scientists that will culminate in a finale game resticted to one room and broadcasted live to an audience.

Of course because its Halloween, there will be lots of dressing up and to be honest Islington Mill is located in deep and dark Salford. Far from the bright lights of Media City and the Quays.

Exact details are still being worked out but its going to be a great event which you don’t want to miss!

Tickets are available for the players and the audience only.

Manchester Werewolf Chapter – June

manchester werewolf

Its werewolf time again! This Wednesday June 20th at Barcelona Bar

…we are very excited to be back at Barcelona Bar on Wednesday 20th June for another meeting of the Manchester Werewolf Chapter, for an evening of deception and accusation in classic social game Werewolf from 7pm onwards. It’s a free event, but it’s thirsty work so bring money for the bar. If you’ve never played before, it’s easy peasy and the rules will be explained as we go along, so please come and have a go.

Manchester Werewolf Chapter – March 2012

This is Wednesday in my busy social week

Manchester Werewolf Chapter March 2012

If you’ve missed the other Werewolf games we’ve been playing recently, shame on you!

We’re getting quite a few people coming along every 2 months. A big part of which is working with Larkin About.

On Wednesday we had another great game of the Thing, then a game of Werewolf finished off with look down look up.

As usual everyone had fun (except I got killed at the very start as usual, which game me plenty of time to do lots of photos) and the villagers just won at the last moment even through there was some disagreement with putting 4 werewolves in a game for 25 people. Barcelona Bar is still a excellent place to do Werewolf and we’ll be back again at the end of May for sure, so look out for it.

Manchester Werewolf Chapter March 2012

Next Manchester Werewolf Chapter – Wed 28th March

Were back for another Manchester Werewolf Chapter with the guys at Larkin About again.

On Wednesday March 28th, the Manchester Werewolf Chapter and Larkin’ About will be running another Werewolf game at Barcelona Bar in the Northern Quarter. For FREE!

Werewolf is a simple game of strategy and deception, played by a large group of people.
The game is all about making accusations, lying, bluffing, second-guessing, and social engineering.

All are welcome! We have a great location with a bar because we all know lying is very thirsty work. The event is suitable for all levels of experience from absolute newbie to Werewolf expert.

The Pancakes and Cocktails are worth it alone… And its happy hour right up till 9pm…

To register your interest, please visit our Facebook event page, or send us an email to larkin.about2009@gmail.com.

Manchester Werewolf chapter – Wed 25rd Jan

Manchester Werewolf Chapter

Manchester Werewolf Chapter is back for 2012 and were teamed up with the guys at Larkin About again.

On Wednesday January 25th, the Manchester Werewolf Chapter and Larkin’ About will be running the first Werewolf game of 2012 at Barcelona Bar in the Northern Quarter. For FREE!

Werewolf is a simple game of strategy and deception, played by a large group of people.
The game is all about making accusations, lying, bluffing, second-guessing, and social engineering.

All are welcome! We have a great location with a bar because we all know deception is thirsty work. The event is suitable for all levels of experience from absolute newbie to Werewolf expert.

To register your interest, please visit our Facebook event page, or send us an email to larkin.about2009@gmail.com.