: New: Jotting Notes from Kazuya Iwata (Real Escape Game North America) at Adventure Design Group

This spoileriffic talk was not recorded. So I'd better jot down some notes. Steering around the spoilers, but that's OK, because the non-spoilery stuff was interesting.

Pizza ahead of time was fun. Much discussion of past Escapes, rafting injuries, Iron Puzzler, LA Crossword Puzzle tournaments and the logistics of finding time to play in all the puzzle events coming up in the next few weeks (oh and that real life thing too).

And the talk? The talk indeed had some spoilers, some explanations of past puzzles. Including some "ahas" that should not be blurted out. But to me the interesting part was in the stuff around the puzzles—how do you make an event that's not all about the puzzles, something that "civilians" can enjoy? Because Real Escape is going for a wide appeal: thousands of players, not just a coupla hundred Bay Area Night Gamists.

You want to have a variety of difficulty—and not just so that you can front-load the easy puzzles. There should be some easy, accessible puzzles. (One of their easy-puzzle examples was a crossword; since Tyler Hinman was in the audience, I reflected that easy or not, some folks might rip through that one faster than other folks. Anyhow…) There might be some tougher puzzles, even in an earlier batch: folks will finish off the easy ones and then the whole team is looking at that last toughie that doesn't just fall over. Then when one team member has the "aha" to carry them over, the whole team gets to experience it because the're right there, concentrating on the same thing. He also talked about the importance of "operations" to help folks have fun. Some of this consists of noticing when a team is stuck and giving them a hint. So if you're playing Real Escape and you're stuck, make sure you clearly mime your stuck-ness, I guess.

There was Q&A. Hey Chris in England, I asked your question about comparing/contrasting Japan and Hungary in terms of Escape Game mania. And he says… uhm, I think you know more about the Hungarian Escapist scene than he does. He knew of one outfit running games there. The Japanese version arose without Hungarian influence (some event-planners who wanted to make a real-life version of the online flash room-escape games), but he doesn't know which came first.

Los Angelenos, the game is coming to your town in a few days. It is not yet sold out. If it doesn't sell out, you know us San Francisco people are going to roll our eyes at you. And it's probably coming to more cities. We know you hate it when we call you non-intellectual showbiz types, but you know that's what's gonna happen. Oh, but even if you're not in LA, look out. If you're a puzzle nerd (or even a fun-loving "civilian") in New York, Seattle, or even that guy in Chicago, they might be coming to your town soon. They might even be interested in hearing from you. And he wants to run an Escape from Alcatraz Game, but it's difficult because apparently you can't normally just rent out a national park for some puzzle event. But he's hoping that us crazed puzzlehunters will lobby the government to let us onto the island…so that we can escape, which sounds kind of Sisyphean when I type it out, but there you go.

He also gave us a puzzle to solve which involved ransacking the space. Which was kind of dicey because it was Go Game Headquarters, and we want to be invited back for future events. As we were shoving a sofa around, it, uhm, kinda fell apart. It was supposed to fall apart; the Go Game folks have take-apartable furniture so they can rearrange their space. Except it wasn't so obvious to us how to put the sofa back together. In the end it was me working together with an artist-who-specializes-in-audiences-of-one and a parkour specialist to repair the sofa. Meanwhile Paul Rundle had the puzzle solved backwards and forwards before most folks had figured out what was going on.

And @hoverbird was there, so I could tell him he should follow @realegame, so I'm pretty sure I can deduct this talk as a work expense on my taxes. Oh wait, it was free. Never mind.

Tags: puzzle scene

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