On the weekend of March 27, I traveled to Boston to participate in an escape room game jam hosted by MIT Game Lab, as part of a marketing exercise by Red Bull Media House’s recently launched feature film division CineMater.
The event kicked off with a screening of DxM, the film the rooms were to be designed around. The first full day was a mix of design lectures and structured brainstorming sessions, and the second day was final discussions and presentations for judging.
— Konstantin Mitgutsch (@MitgutschK) March 29, 2015
— Konstantin Mitgutsch (@MitgutschK) March 28, 2015
The design parameters for this challenge (cooperation, scalability, the ability to automate hints, cheat-proof, etc) were structured around the possibility of using escape rooms as competitive events. Red Bull’s marketing strength has always lain in their ownership of alternative sports, spaces that were typically ignored by larger sports and energy drinks makers. That they are interested in exploring escape rooms as marketing tools is an intriguing insight into one possible branch of this genre’s evolution, not dissimilar to the growth path of Alternate Reality Games. (There have been a few pop-up rooms designed to promote films, including one for The Purge: Anarchy.)
It was a fun weekend and an interesting exercise in brainstorming with given constraints! In the end, our team won for “Best Puzzles”. Thanks to Scott Nicholson, Konstantin Mitgutsch, the MIT Game Lab, the DxM team, Red Bull and CineMater for designing, hosting and organizing the event. As far as I know, it was the first-ever of its kind; hopefully we’ll see many more of its kind in the future.