On the 4th of September, ExitVentures hosted the first “Escape Games Convention” at freiRaum Bad Cannstatt (Stuttgart, Germany). The aim was to bring together the young and growing Live Escape Game industry. Around 100 people from all over Europe and even the US attended and used the opportunity to network and to shape future trends.
The “Live Escape Game” industry is still very young and in its early stages. There is an increasing number of Escape Game providers worldwide, but knowledge and experience is still limited and based on much trial-and-error. Therefore an exchange between the different providers and operators is very important for the increasing professionalism of this new industry. ExitVentures has now taken an important step in the right direction with the first Escape Games Convention.
Some of the attendees already had the chance to get to know each other and network at the Welcome Dinner the evening before the convention. The Dinner was at the Paulaner restaurant in the city center of Stuttgart.
Johannes Ellenberg, CEO of ExitVentures, opened the convention with an official welcome speech. He was glad to see so many pioneers coming together to shape the future of this young industry.
Scientific input and the question of “why this puzzle?” by Prof. Nicholson
Following the welcome speech of Johannes Ellenberg, attendees saw an informative and interesting video message by Prof. Scott Nicholson. He is one of the leading scientist in the field of Game Design.
He introduced us to his worldwide study about Escape Rooms. In this study he compared the differences and developments of the markets of Asia, Europe and North America. He also talked about better Game Design. It is very important that the players feel that they are part of the story (“Make them matter”) and that the puzzles are also essential to the story. Every Game Designer should ask himself: “Why are these puzzles here, why are these things here, how can I make a puzzle make sense?”. During the convention Prof. Nicholson was avaible for questions on twitter.
ParaPark – First Escape Game provider in Europe
After a short coffee break, Attila Guyrkovics, founder of ParaPark in Budapest (Hungary) reported on his experiences. He is a pioneer of this industry as the first provider of an Escape Game in Europe. He spoke about the history of ParaPark and then also gave insights into the underlying theory by explaing the concept of “flow”. “Flow” is a mental state, characterized by complete absorption into what one is doing.
Lessons Learned – An Escape Game provider talks about his experiences
Michael Bierhahn, CEO of Exit Games Operations, honestly explained his sandtraps and the legal challenges of his daily life as an Escape Game provider. He elaborated the many obstacles providers face while operating a professionally and legally secured Escape Room, particularly in compliance with German requirements.
Live Escape Games 2.0 and the need for an umbrella organisation
After lunch, there were two different workshops. The first entitled “Live Escape Games Next Level” and the other focusing on “Umbrella organisation in the Escape Game industry”. In the first part, different groups discussed seven different subjects: pre-and-after experiences, augmented-reality, outdoor-experiences, mobile games, theatre/actors, tech & IT and Think Big. The exchange brought up interesting aspects and topics. The participants’ vastly different backgrounds and experiences allowed for interesting insights and development of new and fascinating concepts.
The second workshop dealt with the creation of an umbrella organisation. After an exchange of views on the advantages and disadvantages, the direction soon became clear: an umbrella organization helps everyone and promotes the further development of this young industry. During the course of the workshop, several of the participants already came together to form a working group that will actively promote the establishment of such an organization.
Overview over the current legal situation
In the third presentation of the day, the renowned Stuttgart-based attorney Dr. Carsten Ulbricht provided an insight into the legal requirements and guidelies for Escape Games in Germany. Focusing particularly on Live Escape Games, he explained the various relevant legal areas. Participants were especially interested in the patentablity of Escape Rooms, as well as privacy protection, and building legislation and codes.
To conclude the day, participants and the convention staff enjoyed a barbeque on the freiRaum patio. This provided a great opportunity for attendees to get together in a relaxed atmosphere, while enjoying a bratwurst and a well deserved “Feierabendbier” (closing time beer), to exchange thoughts and review a full day of insights and new ideas.
The Escape Games Convention was the first of its kind, but certainly not the last. We are looking forward to next year – the preparation has already begun. A successful mix of lectures, workshops and lively discussion made the convention an inspiring event for all involved. Thank you to all participants and helpers! Your ideas and efforts helped make this conference such a success! We look forward to staying in touch with you, and to see you again next year!