E.R.I.C. The Escape Room Industry Conference

E.R.I.C. The Escape Room Industry Conference. Date: 16/10/2017

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It’s been 2 weeks since the inaugural ERIC conference, so I thought it was time to get some of my thoughts of the day down in writing!

There had been many meet-ups and “unconferences” in the last couple of years, but unfortunately the dates never lined up for us to go, so when the conference was talked about I made sure that I was going to keep the date free.

I was then asked by the organisers to take part in an enthusiasts panel. This was an amazing opportunity and, albeit a scary one… having never done anything like that before, I didn’t hesitate in grabbing the bull by the horns and saying YES! (More on the panel later)

The day was held jointly at the Mercure Hotel & Curious Tavern, organised by Simon Stokes (of Escapologic) and Sera (Infamous escape room queen, with over 650 games under her belt) abely assisted by minions from Escapologic.
To say they did a good job would be an understatement. The event was professional, ran smoothly and if there were any problems, they weren’t noticeable from the “outside”

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The Schedule, as you can see was incredibly busy, with 2 streams of talks split across the venues. Regretfully we couldn’t get to all the talks (I wish I could have split myself in 2 to take in ALL of the talks, the wealth of knowledge at ERIC was astounding)

First of for us was “Bringing people together” by Stuart Bear at Tulley’s Escape. A very interesting talk about how Stuart and his team made the leap from Scare Attractions to Escape Rooms. We then stayed at Curious Tavern to listen to Simon & Conrad’s funny and enlightening talk about “tailoring the game to the individual” where we learnt about clue systems, theming, immersion and making the game specific to each group that comes through the door. Our last session before lunch was “Maintaining Immersion” delivered by James Hamer-Morten of Deadlocked and Dave & Dave (& DAVE) from Bewilder Box who talked primarily about keeping the immersion whilst delivering excellent clues, keeping players on the right track and the technology, tricks and secrets behind them.

After lunch we headed to the Mercure to settle in for the next 3 talks.
First up was Alex Souter from The Panic Room to talk about “Ideas to Reality” –  an interesting and at times bewildering look into the inner workings of Alex’s mind, which showed us how much hard work, blood, sweat and tears went into building The Panic Room into the massive operation it is today! Then it was onto “The Players Perspective” – by Ken and Sera. A very interesting talk about what tropes and devices to avoid (or improve on) for avid players and highlighting possible tripping points for beginners alike, also highlighting the face that escape rooms aren’t designing for the enthusiast as we are in the minority!
Next up were Mischa and Lewis from The Escapement in their talk “Design by agenda, and agenda by vision” which took us through the creative process in the set design of the 2 rooms at The Escapement. A very interesting talk which focused on adaptability, hard work and determination (and doors)
Lastly, we checked out the owners panel downstairs in Curious Tavern, which was an interesting look into the life, trials, ups and downs of owning an Escape Room. Featured on the Panel were Nick Moran (Time Run) Simon Stokes (Escapologic) Daniel Hill (Escape) Kate Surchees (Clue Capers) and David & Peter Gale (Exciting Escapes) The wealth of knowledge was astounding and what came across most was passion, running an escape room is a hard job, and has so many facets but passion is the driving force and was obvious in all the owners!
It was then time for the Enthusiasts Panel. Accompanying myself was Ken Ferguson (The Logice Escapes Me & Exit Games) Mark Greenhalgh (Really Fun) and Sharan Gill (The other half of the infamous S2) with a total of over 1000 game played between us, 3/4 of the team having played on the Red Bull Mindgamers team earlier this year (I was the only one that didn’t!) we felt well versed to answer the many questions the audience threw at us!
It was a great experience, although answering quick fire questions was a challenge (I naturally prefer to digest information and take my time answering) I really enjoyed my time as it was a good 20 minutes of essentially talking about escape rooms and that is something I could do for HOURS.

In summary, the event was a resounding success, and I for one look forward to next years conference (as of now, nothing has been announced but the even was so popular I can’t see it NOT being repeated next year!) A massive well done and thank you to Simon, Sera and the entire ERIC team!

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