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Racing against time to complete the escape room

Scott NicholsonGaming enthusiasts from 22 countries gathered in Budapest, Hungary in March 2017 to test their skill in the first-ever Escape Room World Championship, presented by Red Bull Mind Gamers. As the competitors raced against time to complete the escape room, they wrestled with riddles, clues, puzzles and problems designed by Scott Nicholson’s (Game Design and Development) team from Laurier’s Brantford campus.

With funding from Red Bull, Nicholson and three undergraduate students, Robert Durant, Sean Harrison and Chris Tenuta, spent a summer in the Brantford Games Network Lab (BGNlab) developing the narrative and testing challenges for the championship escape rooms.

Scott Nicholson and competitors

During their design work, the team built physical prototypes for many of the challenges and also turned to digital tools to test their ideas. Once tested and documented, the designs and prototype models were sent to a development team in Europe, which constructed the sets for the event in Budapest. The resulting event was televised on live Red Bull TV, where Nicholson was a commentator during the finals.

Red Bull decided to expand the event to 36 teams in 2019 and has hired the BGNlab to create the escape rooms for the semi-final and final rounds. Red Bull has also provided additional resources to the BGNlab, allowing for research that explores how to reduce cultural bias in escape room design.

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