An Escape Enthusiast Abroad- RECON Boston Day 2
The first official day of RECON has passed. I am exhausted but very satisfied. There is SO much to talk about!
Canadian Bumpkin Status- 0%
Nothing today to report. Being mostly in the conference, I didn’t have the chance to see Boston (I probably won’t)
This seems like a good place to start since that’s what the day started with! It was great to see Peigh-Gee Law in person on stage, and she was just as charismatic as ever. And, there was an additional special guest. Neil Patrick Harris made an appearance! There was no musical number, but I suppose I can forgive him.
There were four major talks today, starting with David and Lisa Spira’s The Player’s Journey talk. In it, they covered how to maximize player experience from start to finish, and vindicated my belief that asking players “Did you have fun” is the most awkward question you can ask. As usual, they were super polished and I am jealous of their lack of “ums” and “ahs”.
Next was Haley and Cameron Cooper of Strangebird! They talked about The Magic Circle of immersion, the imaginary circle you draw around your space to determine when it stops and when it starts. This was a fantastic talk, and was relevant for escapes of all shapes and sizes, having advice for those that can’t really do the whole “the experience starts when you book” scenario. Just to make sure we were listening, the Raven Queen of Strangebird herself showed up to make sure we committed to making great experiences. It was…intimidating and magical.
After that, Caro Murphy, who worked for Disney on the Galactic Starcruiser experience. Their talk was Acting for Participation, which focused on acting for interactive experience. There was a ton of useful, practical information in this talk. For myself, who has done immersive escapes, it was great to finally put some terms to what we were doing as well as learn some new stuff as well. I plan to look up anything and everything they have written.
Finally, there was Mayor Gary Christenson & Kevin Duffy of The City of Malden to speak about the Malden Gaming district. Sadly, this was the one talk I did not attend. I was pretty exhausted at that point, and needed a quick nap before taking on Boda Borg. It did seem really interesting though. The City of Malden has made an entire gaming district to try to help out small businesses. This includes Boda Borg. I’m excited to see where it goes!
Overall, the talks were one of the biggest highlights of the day. I can’t wait to see what Day 2 brings.
Today had games scheduled by RECON. The first was a largescale game for the entire convention called 100 Earth Days, designed by Boxaroo. We were a team of scientists helping out a mission to Mars (I think). I was…a bit nervous, to be honest. Largescale games are not really my forte. There were definitely fun things about it. The actors in the game were enthusiastic, and what little interaction I had with them was fun. There was some really clever use of space and environment to maxmize what was available for puzzles.
But of the day’s events, this probably was my least favourite. There was one prop that was a very ambitious build, but finicky in execution. At one point I wanted to drop kick it into the wall and had to take a brief rage break to collect my thoughts so I wouldn’t harass the poor hint guide anymore. The final puzzles also seemed punishingly tedious, at least for a last puzzle for which many teams were under the wire for time. We did not end up winning, which was fine, but it was disappointing that those two fails ended up colouring my opinion overall. I also have to admit I hate competitive team games. Now that I’ve had some time to think about it, I did enjoy it, but those few elements unfortunately made it feel frustrating.
We all piled onto a bus and headed out to the legendary Boda Borg. This was my first trip to Boda Borg. I knew some of what to expect, but I was not prepared for the organized chaos that is the Boda Borg experience. One second I was on the bus, the next I was being ushered into a large, loud building, having waiver links shoved in my face, randomly joining up with a team who was shouting for players, listening to a video and then sent to down a labyrinth of hallways with coloured doors and lots of yelling.
For those who don’t know, Boda Borg…isn’t a traditional escape room. Instead, it’s a series of obstacle puzzle rooms you need to make your way through within a time limit. Thing is, you can fail quite easily. One wrong move, and you have failed. If you do, you get in line and try again.
That is the easiest way to describe it. Each room has a different theme or flavour and are quite unique. Based on the colours of the doors, some are more cerebral and some more physical. The “goal” is to complete as many rooms as possible in full. Of the ten or so rooms I got to try, I completed three. I was shocked to find a physical challenge room I actually enjoyed (the Alcatraz room(, but then I’m a sucker for monkey bar type things.
Definitely worth it to try Boda Borg even just to say you did it. There were some fun, unique themes throughout, and chaotically running around seeing what doors were available was great. Still, I can imagine on a busy day how frustrating it would be to wait in line for several minutes to get into a room only to fail it in 2 seconds. And with RECON, we also had the luxury of switching up teams every now and then, so taking breaks was not a big deal and didn’t need everyone’s approval.
Oh yeah, if you do go, keep hydrated and keep well fed. There is a LOT of energy needed for these things. Most of us were looking for air vents to stand next to so we could cool down.
Random Community Fun
New section! There were other fun things that happened through the day that are worth mentioning.
On the bus, I sat next to a woman who asked me if I played any games by Her Interactive (the creators of Nancy Drew games). I don’t even remember what sparked the question, that’s how random it seemed. Turns out she was a big fan of the Nancy Drew games, so much so she had a magnifying glass tattoo. It was the best commute nerd out ever.
I also joined Kellian of Club Drosselmeyer for dinner, and she picked out a Sichuan restaurant that was blessedly chill and quiet. We were absolutely the loudest ones in that restaurant and we talked about everything from narrative theory to bungles of immersive theatre shows. It was amazing.
I made so many new friends and reconnected with old ones that they are too numerous to mention! Needless to say, it’s a lot of fun being surrounded by escape nerds.
I did not bring hair product with me because I was nervous about airport security. There is no store nearby. The hair frizz…is getting out of hand.
And I’m almost late for my workshop!